Paul: Who allows the allowances to be allowed?

THE UNSAVORY QUESTION of allowances for the Members of the Constitutional Assembly that is in session at the Capitol in Dodoma has irked many people, myself included.

We have been left AGHAST wondering, first, who gets paid TZS 300,000 per day – under what legislative approval – and wondering whether those who get paid such a hefty amount for a “poor” [sic] country like ours are “worth the money”?

As you can plainly see, we have a barrage of questions, with no answers. Well, today, as we talk about this touchy subject, I will – without permission from Makutano Show, which interviewed Special Member of Parliament, Ms. Maria Sarungi-Tsehai, who was appointed by President Kikwete to sit on the Constitutional Assembly – quote, word for word, paragraph for paragraph, exactly what she said, so that you get the idea of what's really happening:

Maria Sarungi-Tsehai: Whe you hear your name, that you have been nominated by the President, among the 44 million Tanzanians, to be a member of the Constitutional Assembly, you must realise two things – the first being sacrifice, this means that you should remember your duty to your country, that is, patriotism.

The second step you must take is ask yourself on the outcome of your absence from “home post”, that within these 70-90 days what will happen? What will be its cost when I leave? This is why I told Fina (Mango – co-host of Makutano Show) that I couldnt answer her at the time with regards to the allowances because I wasnt fully aware of the situation. I was under the impression that we would be given something like TZS 100,000 as our daily allowance so when I arrived here (Dodoma) I got settled; found my hotel and paid for my room.

I had heard about the TZS 700,000 allowance and was very skeptical about it, because I believed it would never work as it was too high an amount. So when I got to the Parliament, after registering, whence we were given forms to register and enter our data as well as answer all questions on the form correctly, we were then told about the allowances.

We were told that the Subsistence Allowance would be TZS 80,000 per day, while the Special Allowance would be TZS 220,000. The Subsistence Allowance goes towards hotel accommodation, meals and probably transportation to and from the Parliament. The Special Allowance is sort of like what we are supposed to be paid – not a sitting allowance -for our work. Call it remuneration. The total allowance being TZS 300,000 is so arranged, to the extent that, when we are not working, on weekends, we are entitled only to the Subsistence Allowance, we dont get the Special Allowance because we are not working on weekends. We get paid ONLY when we work, and I believe this is fair.

We have been favoured because people have supported us and expect us to come here and do what we are supposed to; give them a better constitution. I have been quite disappointed by those Special Members who stood up and started complaining that the Allowance was too small! It is really not our place to complain.

However, the issue of allowances is a bit thorny. I had already made a point that there are those people with special needs, such as the disabled, who will sit on the Assembly. The Government had made it clear that they will have a special rate and their helpers will also have an allowance. So that has been taken care of.

I tell those who had not understood the entire issue – of allowances – is that, if someone believes they should get better pay, for this is a patriotic assignment, they should just quit, because there are many people who want to be in that position, even for less! This is an issue of UZALENDO!

What seems to boggle the minds of many Tanzanians is the fact that the issue of “allowances” has received so much press coverage, due to the apparently selfish motives of those who have been given this UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY to represent 44 million Tanzanians, in a history making occasion! Why such importance on how much, in terms of amount, these people will receive in allowances, has brought so many questions, but also, it has disgusted many of us, because we expected that more pressing and more important – not allowances – issues would have received the priority they deserve! It seems, even the ruling party – CCM – is mired in this saga, which has turned out to be such a great fiasco, of horrible proportions.

Speaking the truth and nothing but the truth – so help me God – is the fact that Tanzanians expected that this history-making occasion would really bring out desired results. However, while the powers that be decided that the best way to carry out this momentuous task would be through a haphazardly made up Constitutional Assembly, which left out so many people representant of certain groups, and the set-up FAILED from DAY ONE!

A Member of Parliament from Zanzibar – lest I make a mistake – declared that Tanzanians should not expect a new constitution that is in THEIR FAVOR! Judging by the way things have been demonstrated, so far, this is TRUE!


In the meantime, those who believe that the set allowances are not enough for them should pack up and leave, and let those who can be satisfied with LESS sit in their place!

By @PaulFrancisTZ, a.k.a. Citizen Paul