THIS DAY THE National Assembly begins its latest session in Dodoma today with daggers set to be drawn over a number of burning controversial issues, including the Richmond power generation scandal. Several back-bencher parliamentarians from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) are expected to give government ministers a hard time for what is widely perceived as lacklustre performance in implementing Bunge recommendations on the Richmond scandal report and other important matters. There are MPs who are quite annoyed that some ministers have chosen to literally ignore what the legislative is saying. This could turn into outright anger on the Bunge floor, a parliamentary source has told THISDAY. Continued the source: "Some of these MPs are real hardliners who are prepared to murk up more juicy stuff about the Richmond scandal and other burning issues, especially if there are any attempts by ministers to protect high-profile people implicated therein." The Richmond power generation scandal is now widely recognized as the fulcrum of current tensions within the august House, particularly amongst different groups of CCM lawmakers and between backbencher MPs and some ministers. The report of a parliamentary probe team, led by Kyela MP Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, in February last year implicated former prime minister Edward Lowassa, ex-Cabinet ministers Nazir Karamagi and Dr Ibrahim Msabaha, and Igunga legislator Rostam Aziz in the Richmond scandal. In light of the probe teams findings, Lowassa and the two ministers were forced to resign from government. Some informed sources now say both Lowassa and Rostam are planning to give statements in their own defence during this latest Bunge session, in a bid to cleanse themselves of the veritable mess created by the Richmond scandal ahead of next years general elections. Since the fall-out from the Richmond scandal, CCM members of parliament have become divided into two distinct camps those who support the work of Mwakyembe and his team, and those who are backing Lowassa and would like to see him cleared of such wrongdoing, said another well-placed Bunge source. A number of CCM legislators have also openly admitted that the events that unfolded during last Augusts ruling party national executive committee meeting in Dodoma were in fact directly linked to the fall-out from the Richmond scandal. That CCM-NEC meeting was dominated by a comprehensive but ultimately unsuccessful plot to get the Speaker of the National Assembly, Samwel Sitta, expelled from CCM and thus automatically relieve him of the speakership. Apart from the Richmond scandal, the seriousness of which has been further exacerbated by the latest series of rolling power blackouts across the nation, other burning issues up for debate in this parliamentary session include the Kiwira coal mine privatization saga, the fate of Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL), and the matter of the illegal Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) contract extension. The Minister for Energy and Minerals, William Ngeleja, recently announced that the government has regained 100 per cent ownership of the Mbeya region-based Kiwira coal mine from a private company set up by ex-president Benjamin Mkapa and ex-energy and minerals minister Daniel Yona. TANPOWER Resources Ltd, which is controlled by Mkapa, Yona and some of their closest relatives, bought the Kiwira mine from the government in 2005 under highly controversial and well-documented circumstances. There have been calls from within parliament for the two former leaders to be brought before a court of law on charges of alleged abuse of public office related to their conduct in the Kiwira coal mine privatization issue. But a number of senior government officials have been at pains to assert that this just wont happen, particularly in the case of Mkapa. The CCM-NEC meeting in August also reprimanded ruling party MPs who have been particularly vocal in outlining the allegations against the ex-president, to the point of threatening them (MPs) with expulsion from the party. Meanwhile, the committee of Three Wise Men - formed during the CCM-NEC meeting to oversee the restoration of unity within the ruling party - is expected to meet with CCM lawmakers in their parliamentary caucus to discuss the differences between various legislators and government ministers. The committee is chaired by ex-President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, and also includes ex-National Assembly Speaker Pius Msekwa as well as ex-Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly, Abdulrahman Kinana.