Dodoma. Parliamentary Privileges, Ethics and Powers Committee on Tuesday, August 31, 2021, convicted two Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) lawmakers Josephat Gwajima (Kawe) and Jerry Silaa (Ukonga) of making false and degrading statements about the Parliament.
Both Mr Gwajima, who is also a pastor, and Mr Silaa have been banned from taking part in two parliamentary meetings consecutively. Speaker of Parliament Job Ndugai also demanded Mr Silaa issue an apology publicly following the inconvenience he has caused his fellow lawmakers.
On August 22, 2021, the Parliamentary Privileges, Ethics and Powers Committee ordered Mr Gwajima and Mr Silaa to appear before the committee to answer several accusations levelled against them. Mr Gwajima appeared before the committee in Dodoma on August 23, 2021, while Mr Silaa’s turn was on August 24, 2021.
Mr Gwajima was interrogated about accusations he has made against government leaders that they have been bribed to allow the importation of vaccines in Tanzania as well as other controversial opinions about vaccines and COVID-19 in general. These include claims that the COVID-19 vaccines that are being administered to Tanzanians are fake and inefficient.
Mr Silaa was questioned about a statement he made on July 23, 2021, during a political rally in Dar es Salaam that implied that Members of Parliament do not pay taxes, saying MPs should be paying taxes so that they can have the moral authority to tell their people to do the same.
Parliamentary Privileges, Ethics and Powers Committee chairperson Mr Emmanuel Mwakasaka told members of parliament on Tuesday that neither of the MPs was able to back his claims with evidence, calling on lawmakers to endorse the committee’s punishment against them.
Speaker Ndugai urged other MPs to stop making unnecessary remarks, telling them to focus on “local politics.” He said: “This whole exercise was aimed at distancing the parliament from the actions of these MPs. [As on Mr Gwajima], we expect the party [CCM] and the government to act on lawmakers’ recommendations [to hold Mr Gwajima to account].”
This is not the first time that authorities are directed to deal with Mr Gwajima. On August 17, 2021, for example, Health Minister Dr Dorothy Gwajima directed the police to arrest Mr Gwajima so that he can substantiate his claims that some senior government leaders have received bribes to allow the importation of COVID-19 vaccines into the country.
But Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro said the very same day that Dr Gwajima issued the directive that the police had not been officially informed about the arrest plan.
“Even if we receive the information we’ll examine [Mr Gwajima’s] remarks to see if they have any criminal elements,” IGP Sirro told Clouds FM’s Amplifaya program. “We might as well advice [Dr Gwajima and Bishop Gwajima] to resolve the matter through dialogue instead of using the police.”