Pinda: MPs’ allowances have Kikwete’s blessings

Bunge in session
President Jakaya Kikwete has reportedly blessed the increase in seating allowances for Members of Parliament from 70,000/- to 200,000/- per day.

This was said yesterday by Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, when supporting a statement by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Anne Makinda, during a charged briefing session of the MPs ahead of their session which starts here this morning.

Sources from within the closed-door meeting said the two senior leaders were forced to stand and give the clarification following a heated exchange among  lawmakers who were divided in two camps, with a majority of them supporting the pay increase.

Bunge building in Dodoma
Sources told The Citizen that Mr Pinda told the MPs that the President had okayed the new allowances following an exchange between Mr Zitto Kabwe  (Kigoma North-Chadema) and Juma Nkamia (Kondoa North -CCM).

The exchange ensued after Mr Nkamia blamed Mr Zitto for acting as if he was the President’s spokesman by stating publicly that State House had not sanctioned the new allowances. But Mr Zitto defended himself, saying that according to regulations, if the President sanctioned any changes to MPs’ entitlements, he was supposed to do so in writing.

“But I have not received any such directive, just like Mr Nkamia or any other MP. How can I support sitting allowances that have not received explicit authorisation from the President?” queried Mr Zitto. This prompted Ms Makinda to rise and tell the meeting that the President’s office had allowed the application to up the sitting allowances.

When some MPs showed that they still doubted the Speaker’s statement, Mr Pinda stood and assured the meeting that President Kikwete had indeed assented to the new allowances but had advised Parliament to know “how it might deal with the issue.” He did not explain.

Sources said further that after the announcement by Mr Pinda a majority of MPs pounced on the few who were against the increase of allowances, notably Mr Zito Kabwe, Mr January Makamba (Bumbuli-CCM) and Dr Hamis Kigwangala (Nzega-CCM), and branded them rebels for publicly denouncing the allowances.

After the increase, an MP will now be entitled to Sh330,000 each day he attends a House session. This would translate to Sh200,000 sitting allowance, Sh80,000 per diem and Sh50,000 for fuel.

Meanwhile, all eyes and ears will be focussed on Dodoma as Parliament begins its first session in 2012 today.

Many wananchi are eager to follow the House proceedings in the next two weeks and put the government to task over various issues that contribute to wananchi’s economic hardships.

Most wananchi who spoke to The Citizen in random interviews pointed out that the parliamentarians should put to task the government on what  it is doing to improve the standard of living of Tanzanians which has deteriorated in the recent past.

For his part, Dr Benson Bana of the University of Dar es Salaam said the MPs should push the government to come up with a strategy which will save the Tanzanian shilling.
Source: The Citizen, , reported by the Citizen reporter
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