Wednesday, June 14, 2006

MPs "Cheap" Questions: Can We Reverse the Trend?

I was doing my regular rounds on the Bongoland media, and given the fact that it is time for the annual budget (which is another topic of itself: Why would we set fiscal policies every June? Isn't that a myopic view of economics? Anyways, this is for grabs another time), I noticed some of MPs' questions that I would grade as "cheap".

Let me break it down: One of the questions was brought forth by Hon. Bakar Samis Faki (Ole, CUF). The MP wanted to know how much money the National Investment Company (NICO) raised during the fiscal year 2004-2005. In addition to that, the MP wanted to know when the Company would distribute dividend. In response, the Deputy Minister for Finance, Mustapha Mkulo pointed out that the dividend would given out according to Act #212 governing registration of companies, which stipulates that the decision to distribute dividend is made by the Annual General Meeting (AGM) as per the company's constitution. Well said Mr. Mkulo.

As the above story indicates (which happens sooo many times), I would conclude that the MP's was nothing more than a "wastage" of his constituent's precious time. It gives the indication that our MPs spend little time doing research before formulating their questions. As a results, their questions seems, at least to my standards, "cheap". I mean, why wouldn't the MP just call NICO's management and ask all these questions directly? Furthermore, why wouldn't the MP spend his time to understand all the background information pertaining to their area of concern before making it public?

As that was not enough, another MP, Hon. Ahmed Shabiby (Gairo, CCM) wanted to know why NSSF does not openly disclose their financial statements. The truth of the matter is, NSSF openly displays their financial statements, even for the entire world to see. Just visit the NSSF's website site and you will agree with Minister Nsanzugwanko's response. Similar to the first incident, it appears the MP, Mr. Shabiby asked a question without first doing a research to establish the validity of his concerns. Consequently, he also "wasted" his constituent's time.

May it is just me, but I am of the opinion that the trend of asking ridiculous questions should be reversed. I understand that the trend came about as a matter of ill-formulated traditions, but I am a firm believer that improving what we do is the best option. As a matter of fact, I believe that Bunge should introduce disciplinary measures for MPs who do not properly do their homework. I believe that the introduction of such penalties would force MPs to be bring intelligent challenges to the government, instead of just filling in air time with some cheap and stupid questions. Isn't time that our respresentatives raise up their "game" a little bit? Haya mambo ya kuuliza maswali ili mradi wananchi wawaone wabunge kwenye luninga na kuwasoma magazeteni yamepitwa na wakati. And I firmly stand by that.

But the problem could be that some of these MPs are not adequately educated. Some of the MPs, for instance, holds only a Secondary Education certificate. I wonder if such MPs are capable of understanding the complexities of issues being tabled for discussions. Furthermore, I wonder if such MPs have the ability to help the government in pursuing policies and strategies that would spearhead Tanzania towards becoming a global competitor.

May be it is time to bring forth a requirement that MPs should at least have a graduate degree, otherwise we will continue to see a barrage of stupid questions from MPs.


Jeff Msangi said...

I completely agree with you.There is huge gap of substance as far as some MPs questions are concerned.And fun enough nasikia these questions are usually sent way before the parliament meets.Who approves such questions at first place?

Jaduong Metty said...

Jeff, good question: nani ana-approve haya maswali. Naamini zaidi ya 50% ya maswali ya wabunge hayastahili kuulizwa bungeni. Kama MP ana issue fulani ambayo anadhani ni muhum kwa watu wake, nadhani kunyanyua simu au kwenda Wizarani ingekuwa inawapa nafasi ya kupata majibu ya kiunaga-ubaga. Jinsi wanavyouliza maswali, inaifanya serikali ionekane kama wana wajibika sana, kwa sababu hakuna real stragetic questions wanaolouliza. I mean swali kama la NSSF, mbunge angempigia simu tu Mkurugenzi wa NSSF na angepata majibu. Kibaya zaidi, hata mimi nimeshasome financial statements za NSSF kwenye tovuti, wakati MP yuko pale na ameshindwa "kusubpoena" mahesabu aone kama atanyimwa. Hawa watu wanahitaji kuchapwa tu..