By Our Correspondent, Dar es Salaam – The fourth multi party Parliament in Tanzania has elected the first woman ever in the history of the East African country to become Speaker of the National Assembly, in a closely followed election in the nation’s political capital, Dodoma, today.
The new speaker, Anne Makinda, 61, (legislature for Njombe South in Iringa region), was the Deputy Speaker in the last Assembly under the leadership of the fallen incumbent, Samuel Sitta.
In the election which was held in the first sitting of the fourth Parliament, Mrs. Makinda scooped a 265 out of total 327 votes (74%) against the main opposition party, Chadema’s contestant, Mabere Marando who is a prominent lawyer in Tanzania. Marando’s earned 53 votes (16%) as 9 votes were ruled invalid.
“I will be impartial, this is what our Parliamentary standing orders direct,” promised Mrs. Makinda when asking to be elected.
Under the reign of Samuel Sitta a veteran lawyer and politician, the 2005-2010 Parliament was praised for its great contribution in the democratic process as debates in the House were cited to be more free and critical.
Before the election of Mrs. Makinda political analysts in Dar es Salaam are in agreements that the vigorous debates that were seen during the last Parliament did not receive a favorable eye of most senior politicians who were implicated in some of the corruption scandals.
A veteran politician, Edwin Mtei who worked closely with Mwalimu Julius Nyerere during the first ten years of independence, in an interview with the leading daily newspapers, Mwananchi, claimed that among the reasons for the fall of Samuel Sitta, to allow a moderate Anne Makinda in, is to silence the strong debates.
Many associated the fear to have a strong Speaker like Sitta among the government machinery, as culminating from debates on the Richmond corruption saga which lead to the resignation of Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, a close ally of the current President, Jakaya Kikwete.
The appointment of Mrs. Makinda by the ruling party, CCM’s National Central Committee, caused a number of debates that the government wants to extend its strong arm and control the National Assembly.
One of the challenges Mrs. Makinda will face is how to continue and maintain the strong and critical debates that were seen in the last assembly and she is expect to face the test on handling the youthful but active politicians who have joined the Assembly from the October polls.