Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Shame on Prime Minister Pinda na Bunge´s Speaker Makinda

Mr. Mazengo Pinda; the Prime Minister of Tanzania

By Sylivester Ernest

The Citizen Reporter

Dar es Salaam. State House has vehemently refuted media reports that President Jakaya Kikwete has okayed the increase of sitting allowances for Members of Parliament. The statement by the President’s Directorate of Communication said yesterday that there was no time the Head of State agreed to the application by the office of the Speaker to raise the stipend but that “he only gave direction on how to go about the issue.”

“The President agrees that there is a need for a review of MPs’ allowances but he has asked the legislators to be wise when looking at it,” reads part of the statement.The statement also says President Kikwete has asked the lawmakers to use the ongoing Bunge sessions in Dodoma to discuss the issue.

But speaking in the Parliament yesterday, the Speaker, Ms Anne Makinda, told MPs that the new allowances began during the last session after the President endorsed them.

“The new allowances are not starting now… we started issuing them after the President gave his consent indicating that MPs would be paid the perks if he attends the meetings,” clarified Ms Makinda. The statement comes amid a warning from a cross-section of political analysts who said yesterday that the increase if implemented could lead to countrywide civil unrest.

They said the timing of the decision was imperfect as it could exacerbate work boycotts by other civil servants and would come at a time when doctors are already striking, thus paralyzing the country’s stability.

Apart from blaming the country’s greed and lack of priority, they said the reported move by the government to allow an increase of the lawmakers’ perks showed great level of disregard for the public outcry which has been evident since the intention to increase the stipend was announced.

Media reports had it yesterday that Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda told MPs on Monday that President Jakaya Kikwete had blessed the increase in sitting allowances for the Members of Parliament from Sh70, 000 to Sh200,000 per day.

The PM reportedly confirmed the increase following a heated debate among legislators who had wanted the raise against the resistors.

Mr Rakesh Rajan, the managing Director of Twaweza, a non-governmental organisation, which aims to facilitate large-scale, citizen-driven change in Tanzania and greater East Africa at large said apart from that there was no sense in increasing the perks “now” and that the government was showing a sense of carelessness to the general public.

“This is purely disrespect to the society…people are crying of life difficulties, doctors demanding better pay…yet you go on to increase your allowances. The government is losing its touch to priorities,” Mr Rajan said.

A St Augustine University of Tanzania International Relations lecturer, Prof Mwesiga Baregu, wondered the courage of the MPs vis-à-vis the public opinion claiming they should have understood what the public was against it. “I have been disappointed…and so is the public,” he said.

A political analyst who lives in Dar es Salaam Mr Emmanuel Chonza said the nation was now facing critical systemic problems (political, economic and social) due to a fragile leadership team available.

“The society is stranded because it does not trust politicians anymore. Everyday things are handled in a weird manner by those leading us. However, Musoma Rural legislator Mr Nimrod Mkono said there was a problem in the country other than the issue of allowances.

Mr Mkono said that the big number of legislators was also a problem which needed “a second look.”

Mr Mkono, who is also a renowned advocate, said a poor country like Tanzania does not need more than 300 legislators at the expense of tax payers money, adding that it’s the issue of the Parliament size should also be observed in the coming constitution.

Chief executive director of Sikika, a nongovernmental organization that advocates for quality health services for all Tanzanians Irenei Kiria said allocation for allowances for the National Assembly rose from Sh25 billion in 2010/11 to Sh34 billion in this financial year and that this was unfair to the public.

Mr Kiria said that if the government intends to reduce expenditures, it had to reduce allowances in all sectors the National Assembly included.

Secretary General of the Opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) Dr Wilbroad Slaa said yesterday that President Jakaya Kikwete has to give a statement on what influenced him to approve the amount. He said Chadema would continue to oppose and challenge the government decisions on the increase of MPs allowances because it was unfair and unpatriotic.

“Today the doctors are striking to demand good working environment, medicine for patients, medical devices and a night allowances but the government insists that it has no money…this same government is approving MPs allowances of Sh330,000 it is unbelievable,” said Dr. Slaa.

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