SPEAKER of the National Assembly Nelly Mutti says bilateral relations between Zambia and Tanzania have deepened based on mutual respect and shared values.

And Tanzania’s Public Accounts Committee Chairperson and Head of Delegation Naghenjwa Kaboyoka says her country is learning from Zambia’s Parliament on having independent members of parliament.

Speaking when a delegation of members of parliament and officials from the National audit office of Tanzania paid a courtesy call on her, Tuesday, Speaker Mutti said the visit had positively impacted the two countries bilateral relations.

“I must be quick to mention that your visit positively impacts our bilateral relations at both parliamentary and national levels. Honourable Members, as you are aware, Zambia and Tanzania share a long history in the region. Our two countries, through the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA), which is still operational today, were the first to receive the largest single foreign-aid project undertaken by the Chinese Government, at an estimated cost of US$ 406 million. Bilateral relations between our two countries have deepened based on our mutual respect and shared values. For example, in August, 2021, Her Excellency President Samia Suluhu Hassan, attended the inauguration ceremony of President Hakainde Hichilema, and the two Heads of State held bilateral talks after the ceremony,” Speaker Mutti said.

“Our two countries have also continued to promote and enhance economic cooperation. For instance, the establishment of a One-Stop Border Post at Nakonde-Tunduma has enhanced cross border trading. At regional and continental level, you are aware that our two countries belong to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA). These agreements and platforms continue to help enhance economic integration and development within the region and the continent as a whole.”

Speaker Mutti explained that Zambia’s Parliament was composed of 25 female members of parliament and 142 males.

“Honourable Members, allow me, at this point, to brief you about the 13th National Assembly of Zambia. Following the General elections that were held in August, 2021, our unicameral House is composed of 82 Members from the ruling United Party for National Development (UPND), 60 from the Patriotic Front and one from the Party for National Unity and Progress (PNUP). 13 are independent while eight are nominated Members. In terms of gender representation, the House is composed of 15 percent (25) females and 85 percent (142) males. The National Assembly of Zambia mainly sits in plenary, but also performs a number of its functions through committees, which are established in accordance with Articles 80 (1) of the Constitution of Zambia and the National Assembly of Zambia 2021 Standing Order No. 165,” said Speaker Mutti.

“Honourable Members, I am aware that the main purpose of your visit is to interact with your colleagues from the Public Accounts Committee, the Local Government Accounts Committee which is corresponding to your Local Authorities Committee, the Planning and Budgeting Committee, which is equivalent to your Budget Committee and the Committee on Parastatals, which is similar to your Public Investment Committee. I am certain that your interactions with your colleagues on the operations of these Committees, will result in both our Parliaments improving the oversight mechanisms and enhancing our parliamentary relations.”

Meanwhile, Kaboyoka said Tanzania would be learning from Zambia’s Parliament on having independent members of parliament.

“We all know that Tanzania and Zambia have been very good brothers and sisters since the era late Kaunda and Nyerere. Our visit here is really to see because we know that you have progressed a lot when we are talking about how you have been changing governments, the ruling party. So, we thought that for Tanzania’s side, this will be a very [good] learning ground and how democratic your Parliament is even gaining independent candidates. Because for years in Tanzania, there has been a call for having independent candidates to Parliament of the National Assembly but we have not succeeded to do that. By coming with our friends from the Auditor General’s office and meeting our friends from the Public Accounts Committees and Local government committees, we know that we are going to learn about how you are functioning. What are the success stories that we can pick from you, what are the challenges that we can compare with what we are going through in Tanzania? We are looking forward to our continued relations, you know TAZARA might be revived again,” said Kaboyoka.