Tanzania’s Speaker of Parliament Samuel Sitta has issued a five-day ultimatum to Zito Kabwe, a Member of Parliament from the opposition CHADEMA party to apologize to him for grossly disrespecting Parliament. At a news conference, Kabwe questioned the Speaker’s ability to interpret standing parliamentary orders. But Speaker Sitta says questioning his competence is an act of indiscipline.
Sitta tells VOA English to Africa reporter Peter Clottey that Zito must obey parliamentary rules.
“We have rules like any house of Parliament. According to our rules, an MP cannot go out of the house and criticize the Speaker only because there was a difference of opinion in interpretation of whatever action took place in the house. In this case, of course, the Member of Parliament was completely wrong in terms of the interpretation of rule sixty-five… and the way he put it was very offensive,” he said.
Sitta says Zito flew out of the country failing to notify the Speaker of Parliament, which is contrary to standing orders of the house.
“He’s done another stupid thing. He’s traveled to Germany without giving any information to the Speaker, which is another transgression of the rules. All in all, I think it’s the way this particular MP behaves. It’s completely unacceptable,” Sitta noted.
Sitta says Zito must apologize in the same manner he criticized the Speaker.
“He called what amounted to a press conference so rectification has to be done in a similar manner. It can be from the floor of Parliament because he did not criticize in the house,” he said.
Sitta explains he will refer Zito to the house Ethics Committee for appropriate action if he fails to apologize within the five-day ultimatum.
“I will recommend that his misbehavior be discussed by the house Ethics Committee. They will then advise me on other steps to be taken. We have several consequences that follow: One, he can be barred from sittings for sometime, a written warning. There are all sorts of different measures that could be taken against an errant MP,” he said.
Sitta denies being vindictive towards Zito in an earlier incident in which the MP walked out of Parliament in protest of what is believed to be a controversial poll.
“It is totally misguided. About forty MP’s walked out, and the action of walking out is completely democratic. If you don’t agree, you can walk out. It did not affect the results because we have 320 members of Parliament. This transgression by the particular MP went beyond anything that is normally accepted. The rules prohibit it. You can’t go and call a press conference and say the Speaker is stupid,” he said.
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