Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Suspension of private statement on illicit drug Act worries legislators

Confusion reigned among some legislators last week in Dodoma over the decision by the Deputy Speaker Job Ndugai who on 6th refused to have a private statement earlier presented in the National Assembly by Esther Bulaya special seat (CCM) be tabled for discussion due to unlimited time. Earlier, a special seat legislator had issued a private statement as in accordance with the parliamentary standing order No. 28(8) requesting the government to amend the Drug Act and at the same time to establish a special court which would specifically deal with suspects of illicit drug traffickers and drug barons in the country. Investigations has shown that, there are some legislators who wanted the statement to be tabled for discussion in Parliament due to its sensitivity. But to their dismay, their anxiety were dashed off when the Deputy Speaker announced in the house that he had no enough time for discussion and instead would issue a statement later as concerns with the matter before he adjourns the session. But it is very unfortunate that the Deputy Speaker did not fulfill a promise.Speaking in an exclusive interview an MP for Mwibara (CCM) Alfaxard Kangi Logola said that, although the Deputy Speaker has used the House Standing Orders as bestowed upon him either to allow the discussion go on, or to postpone it, the parliament has to make sure that, it imposes a severe punishment in order to stop illicit drug use and trafficking in the country. Debating the matter in earlier opening sessions before an interruption to get a directive from the presiding deputy speaker which was enquired by Simanjiro legislator (CCM) Christopher Ole Sendeka, Lugola who seem to be deeply concerned with the issue said that illegal drug trafficking across the border has tarnished the good image of the country globally. However, he wanted the parliament to debate over the issue and if possible name the people who earlier were said to be known among members of Parliament that are engaged unlawfully with the illegal business of illicit drug trafficking. Several interviewed legislators have supported the notion with some saying that, the issue has got the right of discussion as it is a national issue, and apart from that, it’s being frowned upon by other nations notably China whereby drug traffickers once caught and found guilty are faced with death penalty. In a 17 paged private member’s statement in Parliament Bulaya had suggested that the Act be amended so that there should be included other offenses like transporting, selling of use of chemical precursors which are used to produce illicit drugs.

Special seat (CCM) legislator Esther Bulaya.

She believes that the introduction of a special court division in High Court to deal with drug dealers would help to speed up cases in relation to illicit drugs as some of which according to her have been delayed for a long time without unspecified reasons. Bulaya, a journalist by profession is on the view of the fact that the government should improve the drug and Prevention Act so as to introduce an independent body with full power and authority to lead the fight against narcotic drug trade dealers. However, she added that a special division like that which deals with land disputes and commercial cases should be set up at the High Court to deal with drug traffickers. In an exclusive talks  Bulaya has also asked the parliament to make amendments on some of its standing orders especially that section which she said allows the Speaker of the National Assembly to either decide whether private statements should  be discussed in parliament or not. However, in this aspect, she has requested the parliament to overlook at the sensitivity of the matter or an issue once brought before the Parliamentary committee for approval before taken to parliament for discussion if have interest to the general public and the nation at large. With Tanzania on spotlight over spiraling drug trafficking, the Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs),  William Lukuvi said recently that, the government has now invited stakeholders to give views that could pave way for the enactment of a more stringent law to curb the menace.  Lukuvi was speaking at a news conference where he noted that the government’s intention was to allow individual groups to contribute their views  which could facilitate the drafting of a  new Bill to repeal The Drugs and Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Drug Act” Chapter 95 together with the Miscellaneous Amendments No. 2 of 2012 which are in use today. He added that such contributions would help the attainment of an effective new Act sufficient enough to enable law enforcers in the fight against the increased phenomenon which has tainted the country’s image globally. He further argued that the stakeholders would be allowed to contribute views which are not in the current Act with the aim of ensuring the attainment of a better Act that could have an overall control of curbing and preventing the whole problem which has become a subject of debate across the country. According to Lukuvi, the government realizes the need to wipe off the current law and enact a new one which could help bring positive changes to curb increased drug sales. He also outlined other measures to be introduced, such as establishment of an independent organization with overall control of prevention and combating illegal trafficking, including sale and the use of narcotic drugs across the country.

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