by David Brewin
Tendwa retires after 13 years
Former Registrar of Political Parties, John Tendwa (pictured overleaf), has retired and been replaced by Judge Francis Mutungi. News of the Registrar’s retirement was received with glee by major opposition parties that roundly accused him of strangling democracy in the country.
Tendwa said that he left office satisfied with what he described in The Citizen as “the great achievements he attained for the country’s multiparty democracy, criticism from opposition parties notwithstanding.” He had built the registrar’s office virtually from scratch, and facilitated the enactment of key laws that had enabled multiparty politics to flourish. “My critics often don’t know how the registrar’s office operates and aren’t aware of the challenges … it’s never an easy thing to deal with politicians,” he added.
Tendwa said that when he was appointed registrar, he was not even provided with terms of reference. Key statutes to guide the operations of the office and the conduct of political parties were either not yet enacted or inadequate. “When I was appointed, I just didn’t know how I could fulfil my responsibilities. The office needed employees with qualifications in law, but there I was … the only lawyer in the entire office! I thank God that I managed to build a credible institution.”
During his tenure, he sent to Parliament several key Bills such as the Political Parties Act 2009 and the Political Parties Code of Conduct. He also facilitated the enactment of the Election Expenses Act 2010. He pointed out that the Election Expenses Act was a challenging law not liked by politicians all over the world because it limited what they could spend during elections.
On allegations that he favoured the CCM, Tendwa said that at some point the ruling party was also charging that he was favouring the opposition. “To me, being accused from both sides means I was doing my job well,” he said.
Kabwe writes to Cameron
Shadow Minister for Finance Zitto Kabwe (Chadema) has written to British Prime Minister David Cameron asking for a review of his country’s laws and those of other rich nations which make it impossible for African countries to fully investigate people who have stashed huge amounts of money in offshore accounts. His letter followed Cameron’s appointment of a committee to investigate this whole area of concern.
In his letter Kabwe wrote: “I call on you to demonstrate your leadership at the (G8) Summit, [which was held in Northern Ireland in June] by putting in place aggressive sanctions against British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies which continue to provide cover for the siphoning of billions of dollars of our tax revenue,” Kabwe added that money held by individuals in foreign banks was sometimes siphoned off from development aid from the UK.
Kabwe was among the first legislators in Tanzania to alert the government that there were numerous Tanzanians who had stashed dubiously acquired billions in foreign banks.
Independent candidates may be allowed to stand
The serial litigant and leader of the Democratic Party (which has no MPs) the Rev Christopher Mtikila, has been partially successful in his campaign for independent, candidates to be allowed to stand as President or as MPs. Constitution Commission leader Judge Warioba said that the first draft of the new constitution included provision for the change. The Rev Mtikila, said that while the announcement was a major step forward, he wouldn’t hold his breath.
Yet another Party
Another political party, the ‘Alliance for Democratic Change’ has been provisionally registered, making a total of 19 parties. At Independence in 1961, Tanganyika had four parties, the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), the United Tanganyika Party, the African National Congress, and the All Muslim National Union of Tanganyika. (The Citizen)
Six Chadema MPs suspended
In April House Speaker Anne Makinda suspended six Chadema MPs for five successive sessions on the grounds of “gross misconduct”. Those suspended were Opposition Chief Whip Tundu Lissu (Singida East), Godbless Lema (Arusha Urban), Joseph Mbilinyi (Mbeya Urban), Rev Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban), Ezekiel Wenje (Nyamagana) and Highness Kiwia (Ilemela).
Chadema National Chairman and Leader of the official Opposition in Parliament, Freeman Mbowe, accused Ms Makinda and her deputy, Job Ndugai, of “following directives to favour the ruling CCM and its government.” Flanked by Chadema Secretary General, Dr Willibrod Slaa, Mbowe told party members that Chadema would campaign outside parliament against the move. “Speaker Makinda has lied to the entire world by endorsing the decision made by her deputy to suspend our MPs. We can’t accept this and we will continue to fight for the interests of our nation and its people.” According to the House rules, a five-day suspension can only be imposed after the issue has been referred to the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Committee.
On the envisaged new Constitution, Mbowe stressed that the party would withdraw from the process if the government failed to table in Parliament amendments to the new Constitutional Review Act. “If they force us, we will go to the elections under the old Constitution and by God’s wish we shall win,” he said.
MPs who use foul language in Parliament risk expulsion from the debating chamber Speaker Makinda warned in April. She would now use her powers to discipline errant lawmakers. Standing Orders would be applied to the letter to restore discipline in the House. “I will make sure that abusive MPs are immediately kicked out of the House.” She reminded MPs that being on different sides of the political fence was not a licence for them to hurl abuse. Ms Makinda’s rebuke followed fierce verbal exchanges on the budgets of various ministries between MPs from CCM and CUF, on one side, and Chadema on the other. (The Citizen)