- Some say it suffices as others say it is too little
JUST a day after some members of the Constituent Assembly (CA) complained that their daily allowance of 300,000/- was “peanuts”, it has reliably been learnt that members of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) received only 200,000 per day.
“It is not true that members of the Judge Joseph Warioba-led commission pocketed 500,000/- per day as it has been claimed by some CA members,” a well-placed source told the ‘Daily News’ in an interview on Thursday.
A member of the assembly, who is also Sumve MP, Mr Richard Ndassa (CCM), had claimed before the House on Wednesday that the 32 members of the CRC received a daily stipend of 500,000/- while their drivers pocketed 220,000/- per day.
“The claims made by members of the Constituent Assembly are totally false. The CRC members got only 200,000/- per day while in Dar es Salaam and 280,000/- when upcountry,” the source, who did not want to be mentioned, confided to this newspaper.
Reached for comment, Judge Warioba, who chaired the CRC did not go into much detail but noted that the amount allocated to the CA members were higher than those paid to the CRC members.
Judge Warioba, however, declined to state how much the CRC members were earning while drafting the constitution.
“The government should be in a better position to tell you the amount paid to the CRC members. But I can assure you the amount we were paid is less than that given to the CA members,” Judge Warioba remarked.
Deputy Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs Angela Kairuki said “it is not allowed” to reveal allowances given to the CRC members.
“The allowances were statutory and thus cannot be revealed. The amount paid to the CRC members was between them and government,” Ms Kairuki said in a telephone interview on Thursday.
Members of the constituent assembly came up in arms on Wednesday against their daily allowance of 300,000/-, saying “it is too small’’.
They have appealed to the government to raise it. Under the current rates, the special assembly members are being paid a per diem of 80,000/- and a special allowance of 220,000/- when they attend sessions.
Meanwhile ROSE ATHUMANI reports from Dodoma that the Constituent Assembly’s Interim Chairman, Mr Pandu Ameir Kificho, on Thursday formed a six-member committee to guide him on the demand for increased allowances as some members stood to oppose the idea.
In his preliminary briefing yesterday morning before the seminar on the Constitutional Review Act began, Kificho said he did not have ready answers on the issue raised by some of the members, but added that the committee will help guide him towards a solution.
The six members of the team are Mr William Lukuvi, Mr Mohamed Aboud Mohamed, Mr Freeman Mbowe, Mr Paul Kimiti, Ms Asha Bakari Makame and Ms Jenista Mhagama.
As the names were being mentioned by the interim chairman, the constituent assembly members clapped in joy except when William Lukuvi was mentioned.
“The team, together with the one you did not clap for, we will all work together to ensure to find a solution that will make you clap for him,” Mr Kificho told the constituent assembly members.
In his comment, a member, Mr Mohamed Keisy, said it was absurd for members to demand for an increase in allowance when the majority of Tanzanians are faced with a myriad of challenges, including water availability and health care.
He said that he has been receiving messages from people in his North Nkasi constituency to the effect that members of the constituent assembly who are not satisfied with the set allowance to pack and go back home.
Mr Keisy said another message read: “Why aren’t the members appealing to the government so that we can get a salary of 700,000/- at the end of the month. Do these members have the interests of the country at heart or are hell-bent at advancing their own selfish interests?’’
Mr Keisy said life in Dodoma was not expensive as being perpetuated by some members, pointing out that MPs have been living on a total allowance of 170,000/- per day, including sitting allowances
“The amount is enough; we should look at how much the ordinary public can get in a day, before we start demanding for more money…we need to feel sorry for the kind of life our ordinary people in the village are living in,” he explained.
Mr Zitto Kabwe opposed the idea of an increase in allowance, saying the current amount is more than enough.
He advised President Jakaya Kikwete to ignore the demand.
He noted that if the appeal goes through and the president increases the allowance, he will not take the topped up amount, adding that the real situation on the ground — of how ordinary people in the villages are making ends meet — is disheartening.
“And for us to come here and start demanding for more money is discouraging. We should focus on the task ahead of us and be proud that we are making history by being tasked by the public to write the new constitution instead of using this as an opportunity to get rich,” he said.
“Some of the members who are claiming that life is expensive in Dodoma are living in areas that you (journalists) are living,” he added.
Mr Israel Natse said the assembly members should not focus on allowances but the task before them.
He told members that he would have been more than willing to undertake the task for free if the government had asked the members to do it for free “because the matter on hand is of public interest as opposed to individual interests.
“Many ordinary Tanzanians live below the poverty line and the gap between the leaders and the public in terms of wealth is so wide.
So in principle, we should not focus on money but on writing up the new constitution, which is what the public has tasked us to do,” he explained.
Dr Faustine Ndungulile said the allowance issue should have been discussed earlier and established the best amount so that the matter does not disrupt the constituent assembly schedule as was the case at the moment.
The National Assembly Speaker, Ms Anna Makinda, said she was used to such kind of outburst, noting that there is nothing new.
“I am used to these issues, there is nothing new.”
A number of assembly members on Wednesday demanded an increase in allowance, claiming that the amount currently being paid out is not enough to cover the cost of living in Dodoma.
The Constituent Assembly members are being paid a per diem of 80,000/- on arrival in Dodoma and a special allowance of 220,000/- once they attend the assembly sessions.
Richard Ndassa who raised the matter said his intentions are meant to protect the 201 new members of the constitutional assembly who have left their jobs and salaries to assist in deliberating and writing up the new constitution.