House Ethics team also eating at Tanesco — MP

Who will bell the cat? 

That must be the big question now in Dodoma, for Parliament is faced with the unenviable task of dealing with the very committee that it had assigned to probe corruption within its ranks. 

Why, the probe committee has also been accused of corruption.

On Saturday the Speaker of the National Assembly, Ms Anne Makinda, dissolved the Parliamentary Committee on Energy and Minerals and ordered the conduct of some of its members be probed by the committee for Privileges, Ethics, and Powers (PEP).

But yesterday Mr James Mbatia (NCCR-Mageuzi) added a twist to the saga when he claimed that some members of the Privileges, Ethics, and Powers Committee, were also among those who have been taking bribes, the same vice that brought down the Energy committee.

Mr Mbatia said that if the investigation into the Energy committee’s alleged vices is to be meaningful, some PEP members should also step down and be subjected to scrutiny as well.

“My party is not ready to see PEP investigate the matter before suspending some of its members who have also been named as corrupt. There is a need for the committee to clean itself first before it embarks on investigating the rot in the Energy and Minerals committee.

“We have evidence that some members of the Parliamentary Committee for Privileges, Ethics and Powers are among lawmakers who have business interests with Tanesco and are linked to the dirt in the power firm and therefore we cannot have faith in its findings until the suspects amongst them are removed,” insisted Mr Mbatia.

Commenting on the Speaker’s decision to dissolve the Energy committee, Mr Mbatia said he doesn’t see why there should be concealment of the names of suspect MPs and other committees that are linked with graft at Tanesco.

Meanwhile, Mr Mbatia said the shake-up should not end with the Energy committee since, he alleged, there were about six others that are accused of teaming with Tanesco and some private oil companies to sabotage the government.

“We are aware that there are more parliamentary committees involved in this scam, we want the Speaker to dissolve them all so that we can have a fresh start,” said Mr Mbatia.

Mr Mbatia, who doubles as NCCR-Mageuzi national chairman, said all MPs linked to the rot should not wait to be named in the Parliament.

“They should resign their posts... We have several examples from UK and India where MPs resigned after they were named in certain scams;  in this House during Pius Msekwa’s tenure as Speaker, four CUF legislators were forced to go after they were found guilty of forging passports and marriage certificates for some Somali women,” recalled Mr Mbatia.

The nominated MP wanted the Parliament to take legal measures against the accused lawmakers by using the Parliamentary Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act of 1988, which requires an MP convicted of corruption to be jailed for five years and be removed from his or her post. 

On the other hand, the former chairman for the dissolved Energy and Minerals Committee, Mr Jumanne Zedi, said he was shocked by the Speaker’s move and that his committee would fully cooperate with the investigating committee.

Mr Zedi told The Citizen that the he was confident the investigation would reveal the truth behind the matter.

“I was shocked by the Speaker’s decision to dissolve my committee, but we welcome the idea to have the Ethics committee investigate us and publish their findings,” said Mr Zedi.

Another committee member, Mr David Silinde (Mbozi West-Chadema) hailed the decision, saying it was for the benefit of the Parliament and the entire country that tainted lawmakers be investigated and penalised if found guilty. He said it was better that the issue has been handed over to the PEP for as there were a number of controversies that need to be cleared.

According to Mr Silinde, the committee’s opinion, which was presented last Friday during the tabling of the Energy ministry’s budget, was not the same as issues that were discussed and agreed by the MPs when they were debating the budget.

“I support the dissolution of our committee; I think the investigation will clear the air. I was shocked to see the committee’s opinion presented in the Parliament with additional comments that had not been discussed during our meetings,” said Mr Silinde.

For his part, Mr Moses Machali (Kasulu Urban,  NCCR-Mageuzi) said the Speaker’s decision to dissolve the Energy committee would go a long way in cleansing the House tainted with graft allegations and other forms of misconduct.

He demanded that the Speaker names the suspects. Failure to that, he charged, after seven days he would move a private member’s motion seeking the Parliament to suspend other activities so as to discuss the issue in depth.

On the other hand, Mr Luhaga Mpina (Kisesa - CCM) also commended the Speaker’s decision saying the measure would help in regaining the Parliament’s tattered image.
Source: The Citizen,http://www.thecitizen.co.tz/, reported by Florence Mugarula,

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