The Constituent Assembly (CA) has agreed that members should be sworn in individually.
But the decision will cost the taxpayers a whopping Sh558 million in upkeep and special allowances for 620 members for the three days they will be doing nothing but waiting to be sworn in.
There will be an additional cost in pay for supporting staff whose number has not been made public.
The decision was reached after a fierce debate during which some speakers proposed that delegates be sworn in collectively to save time and money.
But then, others maintained that the oath was a personal commitment to be made by an individual.
Mr Freeman Mbowe, leader of the Official Opposition in Parliament and Chadema national chairman, backed the suggestion that members be sworn in collectively to save taxpayers’ money.
But Ms Anne Makinda, who is also the Speaker of the National Assembly, rallied behind those calling for individual swearing-in, saying an oath should be regarded as a personal commitment made before God.
On Tuesday, the chairman of the Draft Standing Orders committee, Prof Costa Mahalu, told the assembly that the team had proposed that members take oath in three groups.
He said the committee made the decision after considering the cost of swearing in more than 620 members one by one, adding that the exercise could take at least three days.
Prof Mahalu said the committee suggested that members take oath in three groups, namely those of: Muslims, Christians and non-believers.
“We have considered this matter and come to the conclusion that it will take us at least three days. It should be remembered that we have not started to discuss anything regarding the new Constitution. We suggest that taking the oath in groups is the best option. This is only a suggestion; the final decision is in your hands,” he said.
He added that the committee decided to adopt the system used by doctors and advocates, who take the oath in groups.
The proposal was supported by Mr Ally Keisy (Nkasi North- CCM), who said taking the oath in groups would save the government more than Sh500 million which would be paid to members and supporting staff as allowances.
Mr Keisy said it was unfair and unacceptable for CA members to call for individual swearing-in while knowing that they would be paid for three days without doing anything tangible.
Mr Mbowe said members should remember that Tanzania was among the poorest countries in the world, and could not afford to spend hundreds of millions of shillings that could be saved. “This Constituent Assembly has 70 days to accomplish its task. We have so far spent almost 20 days, but have yet to start discussing the main issues. We should avoid spending other three days just to take oath,” he said.
Another Mr Ezekiah Oluoch, a teachers’ trade unionist, said from his four-year experience in the African Union Parliament, members were taking their oath in groups. He said in its latest swearing-in event, the AU Parliament had 150 MPs from 53 countries.
“We took the oath in one group, everyone was given a piece of paper with a prayer according to one’s religion, then everyone read one’s prayer and signed and it was over”, said Mr Oluoch.
He opined that some CA delegates were keen on being seen on TV and in newspapers, noting that if that were the case, such people should seek to be MP in the next coming General Election.
However, his proposal was quashed after Ms Makinda lead a number of other members in counter argument.
She claimed that taking the oath was a personal commitment through prayer, between a CA delegate and God and so mass swearing-in cannot do.
Mr Abdallah Bulembo said, “We would like everybody to make history, we want this occasion to go on record for future generations…therefore everyone wants to be part of it.”
At the end, the Draft Standing Orders Committee chairman, Prof Mahalu, reaffirmed that every single delegate will be sworn in as an individual.