Tanzania's livestock and fisheries minister Luhaga Mpina has apologised to MPs after ministry officials entered a canteen within parliament grounds and impounded two kilogrammes of tilapia fish which they said was immature.
A ministry official had on Monday used a ruler to measure the length of processed tilapia on a plate before impounding the two kilos of fish that was on sale at the eatery where MPs dine.
Mr John Komakoma from the ministry also slapped a TSh300,000 fine (Sh13,300) on Lamba Catering Services, which runs the canteen.
The impounded fish, the ministry official said, were part of the 100 kilogrammes of the tilapia that should not have been caught by fishermen because they were immature.
However, on Tuesday, the minister apologised to parliament for the way the matter had been dealt with.
“Mr Speaker, my ministry apologises to you and to the entire legislative assembly for the way we approached this issue,” said Mr Mpina said.
He said he was sorry that his officials entered the parliament and conducted the exercise without following the due procedures.
He said however that there was no ill-will and asked legislators to support his ministry’s ongoing operations aimed at thwarting illegal fishing in Lakes Victoria, Nyasa and Tanganyika as well as in the Indian Ocean and major dams.
Mr Mpina’s apology comes after MPs expressed their anger over the manner the ministry officials had entered parliament premises to inspect the fish.
Deputy Speaker of parliament Dr Tulia Ackson ordered the government to issue a statement in the House Wednesday, explaining how the officials found their way into the premises.
This came up as soon as the parliament had converged for the evening session on Tuesday when Mr Peter Serukamba (Kigoma North) stood up and requested the House to deliberate on the issue.
“The fact that officials were able to enter the parliament and went direct to where our food is processed means that our safety may also be compromised. How could they do that without informing the Speaker’s Office,” Mr Serukamba enquired.
The motion won the hearts of all the 10 MPs who debated it, with others questioning if the officials have the powers to do a similar thing on the executive or the judicial arms of government.