Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Changes made by Parliament not graft claims – Ndugai

THE move by the National Assembly to restructure the parliamentary standing committees is routine and has nothing to do with allegations of corruption as alleged in the social media and one local media outlet. A statement issued to the media early this week by the assembly’s Communication’s Department, noted that the changes are routine and aimed at improving efficiency of the parliamentary committees. “Objective of the changes made by the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai, have considered new challenges and needs that came up after the new parliamentary committees were formed in January this year,” the statement read in part. The statement further pointed out that if there are any MPs who have gone against ethics and are involved in any criminal offences, responsible investigating institutions should execute its responsibility accordingly. It further pointed out that parliament, under the authority of the Speaker, can also conduct its own investigations through the Parliamentary Powers, Privileges and Ethics Committee. “Under regulation 116(3), the national assembly speaker has the authority to make changes in parliamentary standing committees and can do so any time he deems right, like he did early this month when 15 legislators wanted to be assigned to other parliamentary committees due to various reasons, including health,” the statement said. The assembly noted that the changes are also meant to improve efficiency of the committees, following yesterday’s reshuffle where 27 legislatures were assigned to other committees. The same sentiments were echoed earlier in the day by the national assembly Speaker, Job Ndugai, who said no legislator is under investigation by the Assembly following allegations of corruption in social media and a local media out, although he added that there might be a possibility for other state organs to conduct their own investigations.

The Speaker of the National Assembly of Tanzania Honorable Job Ndugai.

Mr Ndugai stressed that the changes are not unusual in such settings to improve efficiency and are not related with the allegations of corruption. Making the revelations during a Clouds FM programme ‘Power Breakfast’ yesterday, Mr Ndugai said he has no report on the corruption claims but acknowledged to have heard the allegations levelled at parliamentary committee chairpersons and deputy chairpersons. “I want to make it clear that the national assembly has no report on these allegations of corruption against the legislators -- and I am appealing to the public to have trust in the Parliament,” he noted. Speaking on reports that some MPs have written official letters resigning from the committees to pave way for investigations over allegations of corruption, Mr Ndugai said he has received 12 letters from legislators wanting to resign from the committees. “I have indeed received their letters of resignation over such allegations of corruption but I am surprised by the move because the changes have not touched any of them,” Mr Ndugai told “Power Breakfast’’. The Speaker made changes in the structure of the parliamentary standing committees recently by dropping six chairpersons and vice-chairpersons as well as reshuffling members from one committee to another. This means that three committees will have to elect new chairpersons while three others will choose new vice-chairpersons as provided through Standing Order Number 116 (10) of the House. The new changes come hardly three months after the Speaker announced the new line-up of members for the committees of the 11th Parliament. “Mr Ndugai has made the changes through Standing Order number 116 (3), which gives him power to appoint parliamentarians to form the committees,” according to a statement issued by the Parliamentary Communications Unit. The statement attributed the changes to “new requirements and challenges after the committees were formed last January.”

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