Members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) from Tanzania who oppose the ouster of EALA Speaker Margaret Zziwa have said that their move to withdraw from the motion is legal and should be respected by fellow MPs.
Addressing journalists in Dar es Salaam the Chairman of the Tanzanian caucus, Mr Adam Kimbisa, said that the three Tanzanian EALA members decided to withdraw their signatures by notifying in official writing the Clerk of the assembly on May 29, this year.
Mr Kimbisa said the withdraw of the signatures is in line with Rule 9 (2) of the Rules of Procedure of the Assembly which states thus: “A motion for a resolution to remove the Speaker from office shall be signed by at least four elected Members from each Partner States and submitted to the Clerk.”
He said that initially the motion was to be tabled during the March 2014 session in Arusha. However, it failed due to legal technicalities.
“The fact that the motion to censure the Speaker of EALA was not tabled in the Assembly within seven days of its receipt by the Clerk and the fact that the motion lacks at least four signatures of support from each partner state after EALA members from Tanzania withdrew their support means that this motion is null and void.
“The motion is not only time-barred; it is also effectively dead by lacking the support of at least four EALA Members from Tanzania as required by law,” he said.
He said the motion was once again raised in the just ended EALA session in Arusha, but after critical reflection of the grounds for impeachment of the Speaker, EALA members from Tanzania, seven out of nine concluded that the reasons were not in the best interest of the public, hence wrote to EALA to withdraw their signatures.
“The decision by EALA members from Tanzania to withdraw their signatures from supporting the motion must and shall be respected by everyone because the said members are exercising their democratic right,” he explained.
“Now that the motion lacks at least four signatures of support from each partner state after Tanzania withdrew their support, means that this motion is null and void,” Mr Kimbisa further explained.
He said the Assembly has wasted enough time, money and other resources in the divisive motion to try to censures the Speaker of EALA.
“We now need to focus our collective attention on the hard work at hand of spearheading the integration process, which is of primary interest to over 140 million East Africans.”
He said the EALA members’ Tanzanian chapter decided to withdraw their signatures from the motion to oust the EALA speaker, after careful considerations and thoughtful deliberations with regard to the real motive behind the motion.
The Tanzanian EALA MPs concluded that the motion is not in the best interests of Tanzanians and indeed against the spirit of regional integration, because it had a “hidden agenda” of serving interests of a few partner states of the EAC.
Mr Kimbisa added that earlier allegations of favouritism, arrogance, misconduct, nepotism and involving family members in the EALA netball team are unsubstantiated and trivial.
“A fact what gives us concern is that there were repeated attempts by some members of the EALA and a section of EAC Secretariat officials to use coercion to try to prevent Tanzania EALA members from withdrawing their signatures. “This bears testimony of a hidden agenda in the whole process to remove the Speaker,” he explained.
Mr Kimbisa called on fellow EALA members to focus their attention on the hard work ahead of spearheading the integration process and other critical issues that will bring tangible benefits to the East African region.
He said that members of the public want access to safe and clean water, food security, quality healthcare, modern infrastructure and economic prosperity and not meaningless politicking by EALA members.
“We appeal to our fellow EALA members from all partner states and to EAC Secretariat officials to refuse to cooperate with those who are still harbouring a ‘hidden agenda’ for the removal of the incumbent EALA speaker,” he noted.
He said the decision by Tanzania EALA MPs to withdraw their signatures by writing to the Clerk of the EALA against supporting the ill-advised motion should be respected.
On her part EALA Tanzania Chapter Secretary, Ms Shy-Rose Bhanji acknowledged that she was among the MPs who were in the frontline to remove the EALA speaker.
However, after noticing secret meetings going on and careful considerations, she decided that the motion had a hidden agenda. She, hence, changed her stand.
On his part EALA MPs Tanzania chapter Legal Counsel Twaha Taslima said the interests of the public outweighed the interests of those with a hidden agenda, which prompted the Tanzania chapter to change their minds.
“We also appeal to our fellow EALA members from all partner states and to EAC Secretariat officials, to refuse to cooperate with those who are still harbouring a ‘hidden agenda’ for the removal of the incumbent EALA Speaker.
The people of East Africa deserve better than this,” he said.