Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tanzania: Opposition parties say CUF sidelined them

Tanzanian opposition political parties are crying foul over a decision by the Civic United Front (CUF) to shut them out from the official opposition in the Union Parliament.

CUF is one of the strong parties that posed a serious challenge to the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi in the 2005 general elections, winning all 19 in parliamentary seats in Zanzibar but losing all the seats on the Mainland.

With 32 MPs in the House, including those in special categories, CUF has surpassed the number of constitutional requirement of MPs ratio – 30 – to empower it form a shadow cabinet. The party leadership announced a 22-member shadow cabinet on January 15.

But the other parties feel that CUF may not be able to use wisely its shadow-ministerial cabinet capabilities, "because the Islanders are not conversant with problems of the mainland – such as those in agriculture."

According to the MP for Karatu, Dr Wilbroad Slaa of Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), CUF already possesses a platform to air its views – in the Zanzibar House of Representatives – and it would have been wiser to it to leave the Union House to other parties "who could speak effectively on behalf of farmers engaged in coffee, cotton and tobacco production, which are not grown in Zanzibar.

Already, Chadema and United Democratic Party have written to the clerk of the National Assembly, asking him to intervene in the matter to conform to House rules.

But opposition leader Hamad Rashid Mohamed (CUF) said his party had taken the decision in accordance with the rules and regulations of the parliament.

Mr Mohamed he was surprised to see the parties raising the issue in the media and writing to the Speaker instead of seeking discussions with CUF first.

But Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe said the move by CUF was "selfishness."

He said although CUF acted according to the House rules, it didn’t act in the national interests.

He expressed his hope that the rules, which were amended in 2000 to suit the political situation existing at the time, would be amended, so that the official opposition incorporates other parties.


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