THE parliament yesterday set a precedent in honouring retired House Speakers after presenting parliamentary robes to retired speakers in recognition of their extraordinary services.
The House was full of joy when two former speakers --Pius Msekwa and Anne Makinda as well as the widow of the late speaker Samuel Sitta, Ms Margareth Sitta entered in the debating chamber under the escort of Sergeant at Arms to receive their traditional gowns, which ought to be worn by speakers when presiding over a session. It is not always common to find many visitors at the Speaker’s gallery.
However, yesterday it was different as the gallery was fully packed.
The guests included former prime ministers, former clerks of the National Assembly, former senior officials of the legislature, CCM Secretary General, Dr Bashiru Ally and many other visitors who were introduced by House Speaker Job Ndugai.
Before they entered the debating chamber, the government Chief Whip, Ms Jenista Mhagama stood up to request Members of Parliament (MPs) that the House Standing Orders which do not allow guests in the chamber be temporarily suspended to allow the retired to step in, a request that won massive approval from both the ruling CCM and opposition MPs MPs applauded uncontrollably upon seeing Mr Msekwa who had never made an appearance in the chamber for 15 years since he retired in 2005.
There was a jovial mood even when Ms Makinda was led to the debating chamber by Sergeant at Arms as more MPs, many of whom she worked with applauded wildly as they welcomed her to the house. She retired in 2015.
But it was a bit different when the widow of former speaker, Samuel Sitta entered the House to collect the parliamentary robe on behalf of his late husband as lawmakers seemed to mourn the departed outspoken leader of the legislature who died in November 2016.
According to Mr Ndugai, the legislature decided to handover the gowns to retired speakers in recognition to their outstanding leadership in the growth of democracy in the country.
“Our record shows that the first speaker to wear this parliamentary robe was Mr Msekwa, so today we make a great history in the country since independence,’’ he noted.
Since independence, Tanzania has obtained seven speakers of the National Assembly.
They are Abdulkarim Yusuph, Chief Adam Sapi Mkwawa, Erasto Mang’enya, Pius Msekwa, Samuel Sitta, Anne Makinda and Mr Ndugai who is an incumbent leader of the law making body.
After handing over the robes to the former speakers, each of them was allowed to move a vote of thanks to the house for at least 15 minutes.
In her remarks, Ms Makinda asked MPs to observe patriotism by avoiding uttering negative comments when outside the country.