Tanzania: APRM gets new representative as MPs confront each on rules, use of English

By Own Correspondent, Dodoma – The National Assembly yesterday unanimously voted the Manyara Special Seats MP (rulling party CCM), Martha Umbulla to represent the House to the National Governing Council of the African Union’s governance body, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Tanzania chapter amid chaos and confrontations which ushered in the House between legislators from the ruling party, CCM and the main opposition Chadema, Shout-Africa reporter who attended the proceedings witnessed.

The fracas started when the House was sitting to select representatives apart from the APRM five others to the Pan African Parliament and three members as House Chairpersons, leaving the House Speaker Ms Anne Makinda under hard time to control the House.

The saga took off after a Chadema Special Seats MP questioned the Speaker’s announcement that there would be only two contestants for post of House Chair instead of six as provided in the Standing Rules, despite interferences from the Speaker, Attorney General and Minister of State (Parliamentary Affairs), Chadema MPs wanted the rule followed or officially exempted.

Matters went worse as the Nyamagana MP, Ezekiel Wenje, named the decision as to have been done in a “Black Market,” the word that CCM members wanted him refute or be removed from the House. At first the youthful Nyamagana MP refused to refute the words which he used them in its English version. Some MPs shouted “Get Out….You have no manners,” while others were heard saying “Shut the door so that we can fight.”

After stiff exchanges among MPs, Wenje substituted his words to another joking phrase “White Market.” However as situation was returning to normalcy a fierce debate emerged on the use of language to question representatives to the Pan African Parliament. Though some MPs had preferred Kiswahili, Ms Halima Mdee (Ubungo-Chadema) maintained that the parliamentary rules provide for the use of English in soliciting votes in parliament.

The matter was finally resolved after Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Bernard Membe came into support of Ms Mdee and the Speaker ruled in favour of the foreign language. When the MPs were interviewed in English, the funny moment came as some could not respond to several questions on the pretext of not being in a position to hear the questioners well. Another MP spoke a very poor English that made the House laugh all the time he was seeking the votes.