What Tulia’s IPU presidency means to TZ

DODOMA: WHEN the Speaker of Parliament, Dr Tulia Ackson took over the reins of the country’s legislature in 2022, no one knew that a bigger role in an important global institution would be awaiting her.

In October last year, Dr Tulia was elected the 31st President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) by the Union’s Governing Council, its main decision-making body made up of parliamentarians from around the world.

In an exclusive interview she granted to the Tanzania Standard Newspaper (TSN) reporters at her home office in Dodoma during the weekend, Dr Tulia said Tanzanians must be proud of the position they are currently occupying at the IPU.

According to Dr Tulia, electing a Tanzanian Speaker to head IPU assures an international community, particularly the democratic world that Tanzania is indeed a democratic nation and that it performs well in good governance and the rule of law.

“The electoral process of the IPU president is tough as it involves 180 parliaments that are members in the world, and mind you, there are countries with two parliaments. There are a total of 46, 000 MPs in the world,” she said.

“Before electing a Tanzanian Speaker to head IPU, they first assessed our country to establish if it lives up to the democratic principles that the Union promotes and cherishes because IPU has its laws, rules, guidelines and principles.

So, endorsing a Tanzanian Speaker to the post is a clear sign that our country makes great strides in terms of embracing democracy despite minor challenges,” she added.

She said Tanzanians should understand that electing a Tanzanian as IPU president is a big step for the country in the eyes of the international community.

She elaborated that the election of a Tanzanian citizen (Speaker) to the post attracts the international community to seek more information about the East African nation, a great opportunity for Tanzania to market its tourist attractions.

“IPU closely monitors how the governments in member states are performing in terms of adhering to the rule of law, we also assess the environment in which the Parliaments that are IPU members are operating,” she said.

However, she said IPU does not sideline Parliaments from nations with transitional governments in the world, instead, the Union helps such countries to organise democratic elections.

“We do so that we can now continue working with them through democratic means.” “As we speak, IPU works with Burkina Faso and Mali. We cannot turn our back against countries with transitional governments. We are eager to see them creating an environment for democratic elections to be held,” she said.

She said in areas where democracy is advanced, IPU closely monitors them so that they don’t retrogress. “At IPU, we have our slogan that says ‘Democracy for Everyone.

According to Dr Tulia, IPU also oversees the rights of Parliamentarians, bearing in mind that some MPs in the world have been arrested and others jailed. We make close follow-ups to establish the motives and reasons behind their arrests.

“Remember, MPs are also human beings, they are not angels. They can commit civil or criminal offences just like any other individual. So, we make close follow-ups to establish if they were arrested on political grounds or other factors,” Dr Tulia said.

How IPU promotes representation of groups in parliaments Dr Tulia said one of the roles of the IPU is to ensure parliaments cooperate in various matters of common interests.

She said IPU also has guidelines that guide the parliaments on how to cooperate with other international entities.

According to Speaker Tulia, IPU promotes the representation of various community groups in parliaments across the globe.

Giving an example, she said the Union promotes representation of disabled people, women, youths and minority and majority groups in the respective parliaments.

“For example, we assess to find out which Parliament does not have women representation or any other groups. Tanzania is faring well in this aspect,” she said.

She said, according to an assessment conducted last year, the average global representation of women in parliaments was 26.9 per cent but Tanzania’s women representation in the House stands at 37.4 per cent, meaning that the country is above the global average.

“When, we, at IPU, learn that some countries are seriously lagging in this matter, we visit them to find out reasons behind their failure to move forward,” Dr Tulia said.

Speaker Tulia said Tanzania is a shining example when it comes to youth representation in the House. Other countries leave youths to use their muscles to get to parliaments, as opposed to Tanzania where a special arrangement has been crafted for them.

IPU is an international organisation of national parliaments. Its primary purpose is to promote democratic governance, accountability and cooperation among its members.

Other initiatives include advancing gender parity among legislatures, empowering youth participation in politics, and sustainable development.

When Dr Tulia was elected IPU president she took over from Mr Duarte Pacheco, a parliamentarian from Portugal, who concluded his three-year mandate at the end of the 147th IPU Assembly in Luanda, Angola.

Dr Tulia has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Law from the University of Dar es Salaam, and a Doctorate from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

She is an advocate of the High Court of Tanzania and a member of the Tanganyika Law Society. She also taught at the Faculty of Law at the University of Dar es Salaam.

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