Chadema Chairman Freeman Mbowe told a press conference yesterday that the circumstances leading to the decision raises questions of prejudice because at no time did the Office of the Speaker consult the party on the matter or the office of the leader of the official opposition being part of the House leadership committee.
“I had a meeting with the Speaker earlier this week and he never raised this matter. This shows that there was an intention to do this even earlier. The office of the leader of opposition is part of the Parliamentary leadership committee; why was this issue not sent to us?” Mbowe demanded.
In a statement on Thursday, the Speaker’s Office said in a statement that it had written to NEC chairman Semistocles Kaijage informing him that the Arumeru East seat was vacant after Nassari lost eligibility.
Nassari missed three consecutive parliamentary sittings, namely those held from September 4 to 14 and November 6 to 16, last year and January 29 to February 9 this year, it said.
In turn, Nassari expressed his shock at being stripped of his parliamentary seat for absenteeism. He said that he had communicated the reason for his absence to the Speaker and was surprised that the head of the legislature went ahead and declared his seat vacant.
Nassari stated that he missed the parliamentary sitting that took place from January 29 to February 9 because he had travelled out of the country to be with his wife who had experienced childbirth complications, noting that he informed the Speaker’s personal assistant through an email.
Mbowe was addressing the media on his being granted bail after spending 104 days in custody, and used that opportunity to state the party’s stance on the recent decision by former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa to withdraw his Chadema membership.
Mbowe said the former PM had his own decisions to make and that as chairman he has no mandate or influence on what a party member decides at any moment.
“This is a moment to seek national healing because the nation is divided,” he said, emphasizing that Chadema is ready to meet any government officials including the Head of State for dialogue on national issues.