Nineteen Tanzanian lawmakers are currently fighting attempts to remove them from office by an opposition party, Chadema, in the East African nations high court. This after Chadema officials stated that the 19 lawmakers in question have been expelled by the opposition party and were illegally sworn into parliament. For more, VOA Nightline Africa host Peter Clottey spoke with Chadema’s Director of Communications, John Mrema.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
Clottey: What is Chadema’s reaction to the speaker of parliament arguing that a court mandate is needed for the 19 lawmakers to be removed from parliament?
Mrema: I would like to clarify that the speaker was wrong. Tanzania’s constitution says that a member of parliament immediately seizes to be a member of parliament if he or she is removed from a political party which sponsored him or her. As I speak with you, the High Court in Dar es Salaam will receive that summons this afternoon and our lawyers are in court. The court is about to give an injunction towards the speakers’ order. We can’t imagine that the speaker of the house who is a lawyer can make this kind of decision. This shows the need to have a new national constitution is immediate.
Clottey: What is the next line of action following the decision taken by the speaker of parliament regarding the 19 MPs?
Mrema: We are ready to go to the courts so we can defend our position. This is also an opportunity for us to question the appointment of the defendants because they must tell the courts who appointed them and signed their documents to become members of parliament. We will see forgery out of that.
Clottey: If the court rules in their favor, will that surprise you?
Mrema: That will be a surprise to us because everything is on the table and all procedures were followed. We don’t expect the courts to do that because they work on the facts of the law, not with politics.