Richmond scandal resurfaces in Bunge

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 RICHMOND scandal has refused to die, as fresh battle emerged in the National Assembly today with the Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, calling upon the opposition to bring the case back to the house.

Winding up 2017/2018 joint budget estimates for the President's office, Regional Administration and Local Government, (TAMISEMI) and that of President's Office Public Service and Good Governance, Mwakyembe insisted that the Parliamentary Select Committee conducted the investigation fairly and professionally in 2008.

The Committee investigated into the scandal that ultimately resulted to the resignation of former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who has now joined the opposition party CHADEMA.

Minister Mwakyembe was forced to clarify again yesterday after being targeted by Arumeru East MP, Joshua Nassari (CHADEMA) on Wednesday evening.

The MP questioned the government's resolve to promote good governance, while saying its ministers were doing double standards.

Mr Nassari specifically pointed out at Mwakyembe, who chaired the select committee, saying he categorically refused to deal with a recent committee report presented to him by his predecessor, Nape Nnauye on the invasion of Clouds Studio by Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC) Paul Makonda.

Mr Nassari claimed that Minister Mwakyembe was acting unfairly because similarly, Nassari said Lowassa was not given an opportunity to defend himself in 2008.

Nassari said all this was happening because the ministers were acting in fear. “It is unthinkable that Mr Mwakyembe had said they could not dwell on a report, which is one sided, arguing that RC Makonda was not reached to defend himself but on the same weight, he could not hear from Lowassa way back in 2008,” said Nassari.

The youthful MP said in the same vein that his then committee punished Lowassa without hearing from him; Mwakyembe should have done the same for RC Makonda’s case. “Honourable Deputy Speaker, I’ve visited several countries in the world and when you see a top government official (s) invade a media house in the manner that Makonda did, you only fear for the worst,” he said, saying that this matter should be dealt with seriously.

Nassari’s stance was defended by Iringa Urban Legislator Peter Msigwa (CHADEMA), who claimed that Mwakyembe has to come clean.

And, Dr Mwakyembe was given an opportunity by the Chairman of the session, Andrew Chenge, to clear the air on the matter yesterday, where he insisted that the select committee conducted the investigation fairly and professionally.

“It is absurd that the opposition is bringing this issue here again in an attempt to clean the rotten and you will never succeed. Please we are tired of this ... let’s stop this nonsense, but if you insist, I’m ready for anything bring it on.

“Follow the Parliamentary procedures and regulations to bring the matter back here and I will again dirty the person you are trying to defend,” he told the House.

Mwakyembe insisted that the select committee had no reason to call Lowassa to defend himself because they had gathered enough evidence to implicate him. He said the committee had over 40 witnesses and had interrogated at least 75 individuals with 217 questions asked regarding the scandal.

“We had no reason to call him, everything was clear to implicate him. In fact, he had the opportunity to defend himself in the House but he chose to step down,” the Minister said.

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