Tanzania: Speaker of Parliament resigns

The Speaker of Tanzania’s parliament resigned on Thursday, the latest example of the divisions within the East African country’s powerful ruling party, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
Job Ndugai had angered the head of state Samia Suluhu Hassan, who is also CCM chairperson, by criticizing the country’s “excessive” foreign borrowing in late December.
In a statement, Ndugai said Thursday that he had written to the CCM secretary general to inform the party of his resignation from the post he had held since 2015.
“This is my personal and voluntary decision in the interest of my country, my government and my party the CCM,” he wrote.
Divisions within the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party – the former single party, which has been in power since independence in 1961 – have been reported since Ms. Hassan took office after the sudden death in March of President John Magufuli, who had led the country since 2015 and for whom she was vice president.
On Tuesday, Hassan implied that she would reshuffle the government to exclude ministers she suspects of supporting her rivals in the CCM.
“What pride is there in passing a beggar’s begging bowl,” Mr. Ndugai said at a public event, “we have been borrowing every day. The day will come when this country will be sold off.
Her comments sparked a debate about the level of debt within the majority, but many, including Ms. Hassan’s supporters, attacked her harshly for criticizing the president.
“I did not expect someone who heads one of the pillars of the state to say such things,” she said, saying the government would continue to borrow to finance development projects.
On Monday, Mr. Ndugai, who was deputy speaker of Parliament between 2010 and 2015, apologized for his remark, saying he had been misunderstood. According to data released by the Tanzanian central bank, Tanzania’s public and private external debt in November amounted to $28 billion, of which 70% was owed by the government.