Ministers and Members of Parliament disagreed yesterday on the fate of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) director general for allegedly giving the oversight committees false information on vehicle inspection offices abroad.
MP Vincent Nyerere (Musoma Urban – Chadema) triggered the issue after calling on the government to revisit the decision of conducting vehicle inspection abroad, arguing it has been benefiting foreign countries instead of Tanzania.
On Monday the same question was asked and both the Minister for Industry, Trade and Marketing Dr Cyril Chami and his deputy Lazaro Nyalandu responded differently.
While the deputy minister said the report of the Controller and Auditor General had been received in his office, the minister said his office was yet to receive the same, and so no action could be taken against the TBS boss until the report is received.
That is when Alphaxard Kangi Lugola, MP for Mwibara (CCM) requested the Speaker’s guidance, wanting to know which was right between the minister’s answer and that of his deputy, regarding inspection of vehicles and the report of the CAG.
The contradictory statements forced the Chief Whip, William Lukuvi who is the Minister of State, Prime Minister’s Office, (Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs) to intervene seeking more time for his office to table the whole report to the National Assembly in the June parliamentary meeting.
“The office of the prime minister will gather all the information because we have observed that there were other people like MP Vincent Nyerere who have more information on the matter which can help us know the problem much better,” Lukuvi told Deputy Speaker Job Ndugai.
“You know Mr Deputy Speaker many people know this issue and not the office of the CAG alone. So I think I shall table the report in the June meeting,” said Lukuvi as MPs demanded that the report be tabled before the current parliament meeting ends.
Before Lukuvi had finished, MP Peter Serukamba of Kigoma Urban stood up seeking the Speaker’s guidance which he was granted. He advised Lukuvi to clearly respond to the question of MP Lugola who had wanted to know who was right between the minister and his deputy.
“What we want is to know who is right between the minister and his deputy,” said Serukamba.
His question was never answered as Deputy Speaker Ndugai allowed Kabwe Zitto who had earlier stood up to give explanation.
“According to the parliamentary standing orders, the TBS issue is under the parastatal accounts committee of which I am the chairman,” said Zitto.
He said the National Assembly had directed his committee to probe the issue and that a subcommittee formed for the task had completed its work.
“My sub committee submitted its report to the Office of the Speaker which has been forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office. So we want the PMO to table the report here, in this meeting,” said Zitto.
Following Zitto’s intervention, Ndugai instructed the government to table the report before the current parliamentary meeting ends.
“Honorable members, leave this matter to us. This matter should not be allowed to consume our valuable time. We want responses during the current meeting. This matter is destroying our image unnecessarily,” he said.
The decision caused a flurry of activity, with the Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda immediately calling minister Chami for consultations. Nyalandu was also called by the PM for consultations before holding a further meeting with Lukuvi.
While the ministers consulted, Deo Filikunjombe, Deputy POAC chairman who is the Ludewa MP met within the House with Lugola on the matter.
Later, the minister and his deputy consulted for about ten minutes in the midst of other activities in the House.
On Monday a heated debate ensued in the National Assembly with some Members of Parliament calling for the sacking of the TBS Director General Charles Ekelege following claims that he had shown weakness in running the bureau, giving rise to mushrooming of counterfeit products in the country.
In her supplementary question, Magdalena Sakaya (Special Seats –CUF) said the director general had shown inconsistencies in running the TBS.
She said since the board had been changed, it was only proper that even the DG be removed.
But the proposal was opposed by Minister Chami who defended the DG, saying TBS was not the major cause of counterfeit products in the country, and that it had done a lot to fight against them.
Dr Chami said it was not proper to sack the TBS director general when a report by the Controller and Auditor General was yet to be tabled.
“We shall be prejudging him when we do not know what the CAG report says,” said the minister.
For his part when reacting to the question, deputy minister Nyalandu said his ministry had received the reports from the two parliamentary committees alleging that TBS had forged the report.
“As I am saying this the CAG has presented the report to the ministry and we are working on it,” he said.