Zitto na Demokrasia

Zitto na Demokrasia

Archive for the ‘Kigoma North MP’ Category

Kigoma Kaskazini – a Potential Kerosene Free Constituency?

with 2 comments

Parliamentarians perform three core duties – Legislating, representation and oversight.

Ironically, one key duty is not constitutional – constituency promotion. Increasingly in Tanzania a Member of Parliament is judged not on his constitutional duties, but on constituency promotion duties like bringing in development projects such as roads, water, schools, hospitals and medicine etc. to the constituency, creating jobs and by making a lot of noise in Dodoma.

The people of Kigoma Kaskazini credit my service to them through several fronts but two that stand out is the road construction (the 60KM tarmac road Mwandiga-Manyovu & 34KM Kigoma-Kidahwe) and the other my being very vocal in Parliament. During my re-election campaign in 2010 my constituents in various meetings time and again reiterated the following “roads are done; now we want electricity”. True to their word they have been very vocal and holding me to account especially the coffee farmers of Kalinzi who want to add value to their coffee and get a better return.

The umeme vijijini is not an easy agenda and it is tough getting rural electrification projects from Rural Energy Agency (REA) as costs are very high and the government always gives them a small budget. In the 2011/2012 Budget about TZS 6.5bn was allocated to power 12 villages in Kigoma Kaskazini, but not one single shilling has been remitted to REA from the central government to implement the project. Rural electrification has remained a favorite catch phrase from the government and politicians to wananchi and usually elicits a lot of emotion but we have little to show as progress.

Kigoma Region, mainly Kigoma Town, uses diesel-powered thermal generators with installed capacity of 11MW. However, only 3-4MW is being produced – the cost of producing power in Kigoma is very high. While TANESCO spend TZS 1bn monthly to run Kigoma Generators, it collects about TZS 133Million.

Spurred by this and the many challenges that Kigoma has as a region and my constituency are facing, and being a green energy advocate, I have been championing for a green project working with a US based company known as KMR Infrastructure on a biomass project to produce 10MW of electricity in Kigoma and shut off expensive diesel generators.

The other day I had the opportunity and pleasure to meet the CEO of KMRI here in Washington DC and we discussed a number of issues with regard to their biomass project and other green projects/initiatives that I felt I should share. Some of the highlights from my meeting were;

  • By displacing TANESCO diesel mini-grids with biomass power it reduces TANESCO operating costs by 45%, generates thousands of local jobs in agriculture and uses local agricultural biofuel supply to displace imported diesel creating longer sustainable benefits to the region
  • Up to 25 Million USD will be invested into this biomass power plant in Kigoma over the coming 3 years.
  • In this project 1000 families will be provided with 5 hectares of land each for a bamboo plantation and bamboo will provide fuel for power generation. More jobs will be created through the whole value chain including transportation services. With strong linkages to the rural economy, the project is expected to have enormous positive effects to the people of the Region.
  • Power will increase in Kigoma, jobs created and TANESCO will cut their costs.

 

Kerosene Free Constituency

How will this alternative power solution transform the lives of people from low-income househoulds? KMRI had an answer that I coined “a kerosene free constituency” as highlighted below;

Most of Tanzanian villages’ households use kerosene or paraffin lamps for lighting. By setting up centralized solar charging stations, we could make entire villages kerosene free by replacing oil wick lamps with battery powered CFL light. This will reduce monthly lighting bill by 50% for rural households, provide 40 times better lighting and avoid health hazards from using kerosene or paraffin lighting.

The central village charging centers also act as employment opportunity for rural entrepreneurs providing them USD 3-4 per day in income and also creating immediate market based sustainable electrification program for Tanzanian villages.

Leveraging the proposed renewable biomass plant in Kigoma, a distributed renewable energy infrastructure would be setup to make this kerosene free village initiative.

As a starting point the biomass plan will help 20-40 entrepreneurs set up central solar charging stations in villages and charge 50-100 battery powered CFL lamps. The charging centers will use solar power during the day to charge CFL lights and then sell to households charged lamps that provide 15-20 hours of lighting. After the battery is exhausted, the households return the empty battery lights and can buy another charged light for fresh usage, similar to buying additional kerosene for their lamps. This pay per use model is similar to their current buying patterns and so will be easier to adopt as it is in line with existing habits.’

The daily cost of these CFLs will be 50% less than using kerosene for similar hours in a day.

The CFLs apart from being cheaper will provide considerably much better lighting and hence reduce strain on eyes.

Displacing kerosene also has other benefits like avoiding indoor smoke pollution, eye irritation and fire hazards.

In addition to lighting, the central solar station can also be used to charge cell phone batteries avoiding expensive trips to town and cutting cell phone charging costs by more than half. Providing a reliable and cheap source of charging a phone removes a huge constraint in mobile adoption thus promoting more telecommunication usage in rural areas, leading to increased economic activity, banking services, information availability, and reduced travel time.

The biomass power plant provides the necessary centralized infrastructure to equip and train the entrepreneurs, provide technicians to provide ready technical and operational support to the charging stations to ensure their continued successful functioning”.

Kigoma will also benefit from MCC funded project on solar power.

The solar project will put solar power on “45 secondary schools, 10 health centres, 120 dispensaries, municipal buildings and businesses across 25 village market centres currently without access to the electricity grid.

Camco International, a global clean energy developer, and Rex Investment Limited (RIL), a solar power contractor based in Tanzania, were just awarded USD 4.7 million for this rural Tanzanian solar power project in the region of Kigoma. Source: Clean Technica.

I am not just dreaming of seeing a Mwamgongo village woman throwing away a koroboi and embracing a cleaner energy at lower costs than kerosene, that costs much more in Kigoma, and in Mwamgongo in particular, compared to other places in Tanzania. Kerosene- free villages are in sight. A ‘koroboi’ free Kigoma Kaskazini is possible.

Hard work and focus are necessary. Going beyond the constitutional duties of a member of Parliament is necessary to transform the lives of our people.

Advertisements

Written by zittokabwe

May 17, 2012 at 1:49 PM

Photography Exhibition: ‘Kigoma Colours’

leave a comment »

Photography Exhibition: 'Kigoma Colours'

Written by zittokabwe

February 14, 2012 at 4:47 PM

Meeting with Kidahwe Village Assembly

leave a comment »

Meeting with Kidahwe Village Assembly on October 8. Debating accountability issues.

Meeting with Kidahwe Village Assembly on October 8. Debating accountability issues.

Meeting with Kidahwe Village Assembly on October 8. Debating accountability issues.
Meeting with Kidahwe Village Assembly on October 8. Debating accountability issues.

Meeting with Kidahwe Village Assembly on October 8. Debating accountability issues.

Meeting with Kidahwe Village Assembly on October 8. Debating accountability issues.

Written by zittokabwe

October 11, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Meeting with members of Kagongo Village Council

leave a comment »

Meeting with members of Kagongo Village Council in Kigoma Kaskazini on October 8. Debating issues on water and dispensary.

Meeting with members of Kagongo Village Council in Kigoma Kaskazini on October 8. Debating issues on water and dispensary.

Written by zittokabwe

October 11, 2011 at 2:18 PM

MFUKO WA JIMBO KIGOMA KASKAZINI MGAO WA AWAMU YA PILI (TZS. 21,719,000/=)

with 5 comments

Written by zittokabwe

September 29, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Creating the right incentives for MPs (THE CITIZEN ARTICLE)

leave a comment »

URL: http://bit.ly/gEzHcl

By Kabwe Zitto
Kigoma North MP

Dodoma. The debate on the strengthening of Parliament and the creation of an effective Parliament has been on and off. Recently members of Parliament have been discussing the introduction of a constituency development fund (CDCF) to assist MPs to address some of the challenges we face in meeting the demands of our constituents.

This proposal faces enormous opposition from some sections of the civil society and donor community. One of the reasons why some stakeholders oppose the CDF is the concern that it distracts MPs from performing their legitimate core functions.

This article is not concerned with the merits and demerits of CDF, but rather it brings to our attention that, with or without CDF, MPs have to perform core functions outlined below. CDF does not address the core functions of legislation and oversight.

As a Member of Parliament for the last three years, I have observed a number of issues regarding our role as Parliamentarians and I hereby analyse the problems and put forward some recommendations for reforms. I consider this to be the right time as the Parliament is in the process of enacting a new National Assembly (Administration) Act. This brief article inputs into the legislation process of the new law to administer the affairs of the Parliament of Tanzania.

According to a recent World Bank article, legislatures around the world are developing into institutions that increasingly perform four key functions of making laws, representing citizens in policymaking and legislation, overseeing the executive and developing future leaders. The Tanzanian Parliament is increasingly performing the mentioned roles. In recent months, perceptions of Tanzanians towards the National Assembly have improved considerably.

MPs challenges
Nevertheless, there are challenges that we as Tanzanian MPs face in performing our duties. The challenges we face as MPs in performing these core functions effectively at both local and national level have been extensively documented in recent years.  Some of the challenges that have been mentioned by MPs and other stakeholders through various studies include inadequate, inaccurate, unreliable and inaccessible information to facilitate our work.

Others are a lack of adequate analytical, research, and administrative support, a distorted public perception of the role of an MP (some MPs joke that, they are mobile ATMs when they visit constituencies).  Others are political interference (real and/or perceived) by the executive function to the legislatures and vice versa and unfavorable working environment, including lack of premises, inadequate equipment and no technological support.

Improving MPs’ performance
All of the above five mentioned challenges are stumbling blocks that make it difficult for us to perform our legitimate and sometimes constitutional functions. The fact remains that MPs face real problems that need to be addressed. Below we examine some issues raised by MPs and analyse attempts in other countries to address them.

Access to Information
MPs cannot begin to be effective without enough of the right information at the right time in a consistent manner. The recent debate around parliamentary access to government contracts has forced this issue into the public domain, questioning old assumptions.  At national level, the Parliamentary Library has the potential to be a vibrant hub of policy and legislative information that can be used by MPs and parliamentary researchers to improve legislation, policy and oversight.  However, the information contained therein is inadequate, often outdated, and often of questionable relevance to today’s changing legislative environment.

To perform our representative role, MPs need to be in constant contact with constituents, to be informed of and understand their needs and to ensure that these needs are followed up with the relevant government authorities. At constituency level, many MPs do not have offices. For those MPs, who manage to obtain office space, it is often inadequately furnished and ill-equipped. This discourages MPs from spending time in constituencies because the working environment is less than ideal.

If constituents do not know where to access their MP, the MP will not be informed of their needs and will not represent them adequately. One of the reasons cited for wanting the CDF is that public funds that are available at constituency level for development projects are excessively bureaucratic and not easily accessed. Information on the money received and how this money is used should be posted publicly at local government level.

Furthermore, the MP, being a member of the local authority council should have access to all the necessary information to perform the oversight function at local level. For those MPs working in constituencies where there is internet access, following up issues at district level becomes even easier because a lot of information that is not easily accessible at district level is often posted on the various government websites.

Examples of this are budget, expenditure and performance information, audit reports, laws, by-laws, policies and service delivery survey findings. Often information produced outside of government can also provide valuable information for MPs to cross-check or supplement information provided by government.

Information and Technology (IT) equipment and internet access in the office of the MP in such cases if well used could improve the oversight function considerably.

Administrative support
One of the most common complaints at constituency level is that, once elected, constituents rarely see their MP until it is time for re-election. Some of us admit that we are unable to spend as much time in our constituencies as we would like due to the many duties we have that require us to be outside of our constituencies.

These include following up on projects earmarked for our respective constituencies with the relevant ministries etc. This problem could be addressed if the office of the MP at constituency level was staffed with pParpeople, who would assist the MP with constituency work. This way our presence would be felt even when we are not physically present. Much of the follow up work done at constituency level can be done by someone other than the MP.

In fact, even centrally, staff supports for the legislature in general and, more specifically, for Parliamentary committees is far from adequate and this affects the ability of MPs and Parliamentary committees to analyse proposed bills and policies, their implications on the nation as well as on our constituents. It also limits our ability to initiate legislation in the form of private members bills, as is our right, or to commission special studies independently of the executive to assist us with our oversight function.

While acknowledging that Tanzania is a developing country and that the national budget will reflect this fact, for a small additional increase in the administration budget for Parliament, it is possible to employ enough appropriately skilled staff to ensure that Parliament is adequately supported in performing its oversight function. In the past, I have proposed that each constituency MP should be provided with, say, Sh3 million a month for the purpose of remunerating supporting staff. This would total less than Sh10 billion a year.

Transparency
When MPs put propose revisions to our pay packages, the common public perception is that MPs are seeking to legislate large salaries for ourselves and the public constantly questions whether value for money is being obtained.
This is not surprising given that the declaration of assets that an MP is required to make annually under the Public Code of Ethics Act is also not easily accessible to the public.

Lessons from other countries
The above problems are common and we should, first of all, examine how other countries have tried to address them. In 2005, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conducted a survey of remuneration paid to legislatures within the commonwealth. The survey demonstrates the diversity in terms of what is paid to MPs across the countries surveyed and there were many differences.

Most legislatures in developing countries received a constituency allowance, some assistance towards transport or purchase of a vehicle and fuel, and an attendance allowance when parliament is in session.Many were on a medical plan or a contributory pension scheme. The salary levels varied considerably.

In Kenya, for example, an MP was paid a salary equivalent to that of a head of a civil service ministry, while in Malawi an MP was paid less than half the salary of a secondary school teacher. In most cases, support staff salaries are paid directly to staff by the Office of Parliament and this is not given directly to MPs. Staffing support is not common in developing countries.

Recommendations
In view of the above and having taken account of common practice elsewhere in the world, I make the following recommendations:

Library
Immediate action should be taken to ensure that the Parliamentary Library in Dodoma is well stocked with up-to-date, relevant material to provide MPs and parliamentary staff with timely, accurate and relevant information to enhance their performance.

Sessions programmes
MPs should be provided with a Parliamentary Programme in advance of each session detailing all the matters to be discussed during the session. Changes to this Programme should be the exception rather than the norm.

MPs remuneration
MPs total remuneration package should be reviewed every 2 years (beginning this year) in order to be in line with appropriate rates paid in countries with similar conditions and in line with job market trends within Tanzania.

MPs offices
All elected MPs should be guaranteed an office within their constituencies, if an office cannot be provided by the local government authority, then the Office of Parliament should set aside a fund to ensure that appropriate premises within their constituency can be leased on behalf of the MP.

Nominated and Special seats MPs should also be guaranteed office space either in Dodoma or Dar es Salaam so that they can be easily located by the special groups they represent.  Such MPs may be required to share office space and/or basic equipment if it is more cost-effective to do so.

All MP offices should be furnished with basic furniture, stationery, office equipment (including IT equipment where possible), and a modest budget for general running costs.  Where it is most cost-effective to do so, any of these items should be purchased centrally and distributed accordingly to MPs’ offices.  All office premises, equipment and furniture should be issued to an MP on loan and must be returned to the Office of Parliament once s(he) ceases to be an MP and re-allocated as appropriate.

Stationary
The Office of Parliament should consider assisting MPs with postage costs for official correspondence.  This may be done by issuing prepaid envelopes to MPs for official correspondence.

Supporting staff
To assist MPs to perform their representative and oversight duties within their constituencies, there should be a guaranteed staffing allowance for all elected MPs. The allocation should be enough to guarantee an MP a driver, an office assistant and a personal assistant to assist with research, basic correspondence, following up on constituency issues, preliminary analysis and problem solving for constituency problems that are straight-forward, among others.

The personal assistant would be expected to operate at the level of a recent university graduate. MPs would be responsible for preparing staff contracts (following a standard contract template issued by the Office of Parliament) and terms of reference for all of their staff.

They would manage their performance and allocate duties within the terms of the contract.  All salary payments would be made directly by the Office of Parliament to individual members of staff in accordance with the agreed contract.  MPs would be required to set salaries at levels similar to those paid to staff possessing equivalent levels of responsibility within normal government service.

Research
Parliament should consider setting aside an allocation for special research projects to enable MPs to perform their role more effectively.

This allocation would not be used for work that falls within the MPs’ routine duties.  However, it would be available to assist members with more technical research studies, such as analysis of complex bills requiring technical expertise, preparation of private members’ bills requiring specific research or impact analyses.

Remuneration
All remuneration and benefits due to MPs should be publicly available by law and posted on-line.

All assets owned by and interests belonging to MPs must be declared on and annual basis, and the current declaration of assets/interests must be published in a public place at the MP’s office.

Auditing
All allocations to and expenditure by MPs should be audited by a reputable external auditor or the National Audit Office on an annual basis and this report should be made available to the public both on-line and within the relevant constituency in hard copy.

Conclusion
Effective Parliament can only be attained if and only if there exists incentives and an enabling environment to allow the legislature to perform its oversight role properly. The above highlighted recommendations, I believe, would improve the effectiveness of the Tanzanian Parliament.

The purpose of parliamentary reforms is to create the right institutional and individual incentives for increased effectiveness in the legislative function. I submit that, the recommendations herein would move our Parliament several steps in this direction.

Kabwe Zuberi Zitto, the youngest elected MP in Tanzanian Parliament, is a Trade economist with enormous interests on democratic institutions and mineral/resources economics. Zitto is currently serving as a Champion for the establishment of the Global Parliamentary Network on preventive Diplomacy.

He chairs a strong and sensitive Parliamentary Standing Committee dealing with Accounts of Public Investments (i.e. Parastatals, Government Institutions and Companies with government interests). He is an MP representing Kigoma North on a ticket of Chadema, the country’s main opposition party he serves as the deputy secretary general

Written by zittokabwe

April 13, 2011 at 12:15 PM

Youthful MPs start grappling with solutions By Ani Jozen-The Guardian IPP Media

leave a comment »

By ANI JOZEN

Job descriptions are changing in how parliamentary committees relate to the work of government ministries they are supposed to supervise, from oversight of accounts and criticism of responsible officials, or impeaching them, to a different outlook.

Now it seems that parliamentary committees are beginning to enter into the nitty gritty of issues and look for solutions, often in the direction sought by the government, but could do nothing about it due to criticism from MPs. It means that when the same initiative or a modified version comes from MPs, it will no longer face obstacles to taking it up.

This outlook is evident from the tonality of the new leadership of the House committees handling energy issues, especially from Bumbuli MP January Makamba, where the generation gap is more in evidence than perhaps of other MPs.

He took over the seat from veteran permanent secretary William Shelukindo, and was handed the same job of chairing the parliamentary committee on energy matters, and his tone is markedly different from the elder ex-parliamentarian. It means that the usual thrust of Parliament, which certain quarters had become used to seeing as ethics, was only just style.

A major problem that has confronted Parliament since it started its current life as the 10th Parliament of the United Republic and 11th since independence, is the crippling power shedding in place since November.

There is a clear shift from requiring the government to empower Tanesco to solve this and other problems, to seeking solutions within public-private partnerships, including crossing limits hitherto imposed by the sense of ethics – but in actual fact style – predominant in the past legislature and largely explaining the current woes. The reasons are multiple but generation gap has a clear role.

What is at issue seems to focus around a proper comprehension of first, what is ‘public-private partnership’ and tied to it, clarifying its relationship with the public sector – as to how far the latter bends to the dictates of the partnership, or decides everything as if the partner was an agent.

This has so far been the way things are conducted in the energy sector in particular, leading to a chasm of sentiments on how decisions are made, to affirm public sector hegemony in all decision making. This has consequently thrown policy making into confusion, and partnerships become mostly non-starters.

For instance it is on the basis of insistence by MP Makamba that the government is now preparing amendments to the law on public procurement so that there is greater flexibility in deciding what sort of machinery or equipment can be procured by the government. One contradictory feature is that public agencies like ATC/ATCL can ‘wet lease’ any plane they can find, but electricity generation can’t be solved by procuring a system that would be in use for two years. It would be totally unlawful.

In the previous legislature the idea of making changes on the current law provisions would have been more or less out of question, and owing to opposition from MPs, government management of the sector was rudderless. The government was on the receiving end of criticism in the legislature and civil society, apart from opposition, and fending it off was sufficiently preoccupying as a task, before thinking of revisiting the legislation itself, to give it room to do what precisely was being considered as wrong ethically and contrary to the law. In other words MPs saw the law as fully rational on the issue.

This is not patently the case anymore, as it is beginning to emerge within the precincts of the House committees that the parliamentary ideal – procurement as stipulated by the law – was too hemmed in for comfort. What is missing is the combative mood of the past legislature, that wishing to alter the legislation as it was merely to observe the biddings of vested interests, since their object of pursuit, that the government purchases a new generation system, as for all intents and purposes failed. When any of their adherents address the issue, for instance among opposition MPs, they query why it is so.

What is emerging can be called a ‘wet purchasing’ regime similar to ‘wet leasing’ elsewhere, despite that the two may have different connotations, and it means that a sort of puritanism of public sector demands is being eclipsed. Obviously there is another side to the matter as the 2004 Act may have been designed to stop negative instances of purchases of ramshackle equipment and there is no way the likely complications can be prefigured or otherwise avoided but placing a blanket law about what to purchase. It means the purchasing will be closely supervised, to it keep within the public interest.

When this hurdle is crossed within the legislature, examining what can also be done in relation to parastatal restructuring begins to take a new image, for instance in the case of another youthful MP, Zitto Zuberi Kabwe in charge of accounts of parastatal organizations.

The MP has been insisting on taking up a structure where TANESCO is relieved of generation capacity and only takes up generated power, transmits it to power stations and distributes it to consumers. It is unclear if this is a changed proposal agreed collectively, or it is personal opinion to restart the debate on unbundling of Tanesco.

While the whole idea of unbundling of Tanesco is likely to confront teething problems of a practical character, it marks a shift from a situation where such issues were only being discussed in offices of the ministry and much less in Tanesco itself. Parliament was by and large disposed only to criticism of government officials, imputing or otherwise in determination of wrongdoing, with a standard political penalty of resigning from a ministerial position. That way matters looked easy, as it was enough for a particular sentiment on governance to be breached for such imputation of responsibility to come up.

What is therefore emerging is that there is clear paralysis of government action on account of being closely watched by parliamentary committees and the wider House, and fractious disputes within the ruling party, rising up to Cabinet level. This means that the government has enough on its hands just trying to keep the peace both within its own ranks and in its dealings with Parliament and civil society that it can scarcely take initiative one way or another.

As a result, vast expectations of change arose in the past general elections and failed, and meanwhile much of the old guard in the House went out.

It is consequently undeniable that a shift in tone and even in comprehension of tasks of MPs and of government has taken place in Parliament, and as a result it is the House which is moving proposals in more than one area. Altering the law on procurement to make it flexible, instead of imposing singular choices of purchasing new systems as dictated by preferences of parastatal boards and radical MPs backed by a World Bank advised legislation is one example, since its only alternative is permanent load shedding. Without a shift of sentiments in the House, no such amendments would come about.

So there is a surprising situation in both parts of the Union, where in Zanzibar the political paralysis has been resolved by having the two contentious parties constituting a government of national unity, while the paralysis on the Mainland is being resolved differently.

It is being catered for by changing mentalities among MPs partly on account of the generation gap, where the likes of January Makamba or Zitto Kabwe don’t have parastatal interests at heart, or seeing Parliament as a disciplinary caucus to control executive ethics, but a problem resolving environment. It is likely to be a relief to the public.

Source: The Guardian

URL: http://bit.ly/dGtA4l

Written by zittokabwe

March 21, 2011 at 10:02 AM