IT is now crystalclear that Members of Parliament in Tanzania, basing on their political affiliations, are divided over President John Magufuli’s recent ban on mineral concentrate exports, with opposition legislators opting to ‘play devil’s advocate.’
In a damning revelation, lawmakers who were previously distinguished for being bold and sincere in defending the country’s resources chose to shield an investor at the expense of millions of Tanzanians.
President Magufuli formed a probe team to investigate content and amount of minerals contained in the containers which were ready for export. The eight-man team discovered a number of undeclared strategic minerals and under-invoicing of the resources, among others.
However, unconfirmed reports making rounds here suggest that a number of opposition lawmakers have been bribed. Geita MP (CCM) Joseph Kasheku alias Musukuma, pressed the chair to allow him to evidently name all opposition lawmakers who received money to defend the investor.
Debating the Energy and Minerals budget estimates, almost all opposition MPs blasted President Magufuli over the decision. Surprisingly, in apparent swift reaction to counterattack, the ruling CCM’s unflinching stance to support the State’s action, Shadow Minister John Mnyika decided to wreak havoc, making the chamber unruly.
The fracas lasted for nearly two minutes as Kibamba’s Mnyika on Chadema ticket kept on shouting despite the chair’s order demanding him to adhere to the House Standing Orders.
In a quick response, Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai ordered Mnyika to get out and is now required to refrain from attending any Bunge activity and not even to set his foot at the Bunge grounds for seven days.
In the same token, Mr Job Ndugai directed the Parliamentary Privileges, Ethics and Powers Committee to meet yesterday and immediately grill Bunda MP Ester Bulaya over her uncouth move to coax fellow opposition legislators to march out of the House.
Kawe MP Halima Mdee is also on the firing line as she was trying to block Sergeant at Arms from kicking Mnyika out. Speaker Ndugai directed the Committee to present its report to him on the two MPs -- Mdee and Bulaya on Monday for further action.
All opposition lawmakers, except Mtwara Urban’s Maftah Nachuma (CUF), at their own will decided to move out of the debating chamber. Speaking before calling off yesterday’s morning activities, Mr Ndugai said the Parliament was fully backing president Magufuli on his stance on the mineral concentrates.
He said only bribed Tanzanian could stand to oppose the decision and his or her patriotism will always remain doubtful. “We have been losing a lot through dishonesty by mining firms and other crooked leaders.
It is irrational seeing someone standing in the defence of such firms,” he said, adding that it hardly make sense to any forward-thinking person. Debating earlier, Mwita Waitara (Ukonga), Saed Kubenea (Ubungo) and Salome Makamba (Special Seats) all from Chadema, claimed that President Magufuli’s action on the saga was incorrect.
They criticised mineral concentrates’ ban asserting that the country was risking being charged at the international court over breach of contract with the mining firm. Mr Kubenea said the government was supposed to sit with the investor to see how to resolve the issue instead of impounding the containers.
However, a number of MPs from the ruling CCM maintained that State’s action on the mineral concentrates was correct and aims at ‘bringing back country’s resources to Tanzanians’.
Mr Joseph Kasheku, an MP from mineral-rich Geita, said the country has lost a lot to mining investors and it was high time Tanzanians stood firm for the interests of the nation.
“I’m wondering to see the same people who were blasting such investors are now praising them…what a shame! Where are we heading as a nation,” he wondered.
Mr William Ngeleja (Sengerema-CCM) debated that MPs were supposed to join forces and collectively advise the government on the best way to manage country’s minerals for the benefit of all Tanzanians.
The MP who once served as Energy and Minerals Minister advised the government to review mining Acts at every five years while making contracts open to avoid any cheating loophole.
Prof Anna Tibaijuka (Muleba South-CCM) said the President has powers to order inspections on the containers to satisfy himself if they contained exactly what was declared