Dodoma. Deputy Speaker of Parliament Tulia Ackson is set to become the new Speaker of the 12th Parliament following winning nomination from the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) to contest in what seems to be a one-horse race for the position.
About 70 people had sought the nomination from CCM to vie for the post left vacant by a sudden resignation of Mr Job Ndugai, a decision he called “personal and voluntary” that was catapulted by his public spat with President Samia Suluhu Hassan on borrowing.
With the exception of one candidate from the opposition Alliance for Democratic Change (ADC) party Maimuna Saidi, the opposition has largely ignored the race, probably motivated by their belief that the current parliament is illegitimate and thus shirk any involvement with its dealings.
Seating for a one-day meeting, under the chairmanship of its national chairperson President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the central committee of CCM nominated Dr Ackson as the party’s flagbearer in the race of the head of the legislative body.
A lawyer by profession, Tulia Ackson became the Deputy Speaker of Parliament in 2015 after being appointed as a Member of Parliament by then-President John Magufuli.
During the 2020 general elections, the former law lecturer from the University of Dar es Salaam contested as a CCM parliamentary candidate for Mbeya Urban constituency, going head to head with CHADEMA candidate Joseph Mbilinyi alias Sugu.
She emerged winner in the election that opposition parties called a sham and went ahead to retain her position as the Deputy Speaker.
While many thought of her as the likely person to replace Mr Ndugai’s position some raised concerns about the constitutionality and legality of her contesting for the position before resigning from the position she was.
“She was supposed to resign first as the Deputy Speaker before running for the position of the Speaker of Parliament,” says Pasience Mlowe, an Advocates from a Dar es Salaam based law firm “Because her position has clearly been stipulated in the constitution.”
During her time as Deputy Speaker, Dr Ackson was in constant clashes with lawmakers from the opposition, who accused her of bias and prejudice against them, something that led her to treat them differently from the way she was treating lawmakers from her party CCM.
On April 23, 2021, while presiding a session in the Parliament, Dr Ackson declared that all lawmakers who were in the house belonged to political parties, despite the fact that there were nineteen MPs who remained within the house despite having their membership from CHADEMA revoked.
If she ends up becoming the eighth Speaker of Parliament, Dr Ackson is likely to be guided by her belief that as a Speaker she is not the same as President Samia when it comes to the principle of separation of power between the three pillars of the state.
She thinks Tanzania’s president is above all other state pillars of the parliament and the judiciary for she is not only the Head of the Government but also the Head of State.
“Although the parliament has the authority to make laws, advise and supervise the government it cannot go against the executive,” she said on January 10, 2022, during a State House function. Just four days had passed since Mr Ndugai’s resignation.
Dr Ackson studied law at the University of Dar es Salaam, obtaining her Master’s Degree in 2004. She was then admitted to the University of Cape Town in 2005 for her doctoral studies and obtained a doctorate in Philosophy in 2007.
On September 9, 2015, former President Jakaya Kikwete appointed her 16th deputy Attorney General (AG) – a position where she was second most high-ranking government legal officer behind the then-Attorney General George Masaju.
Jackline Kuwanda is The Chanzo correspondent based in Dodoma. She’s available at firstname.lastname@example.org