Sitta: Cheyo sacking is most complicated By Samuel Kamndaya, Dodoma THE CITIZEN The controversy over the sacking of Mr John Cheyo as a shadow minister deepened yesterday, with National Assembly Speaker Samuel Sitta announcing that he would seek legal advice to resolve the issue. But the Leader of the Official Opposition, Mr Hamad Rashid Mohammed, declared that Tuesday's removal of the Bariadi East MP from the Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development portfolio was final. Mr Cheyo, the sole United Democratic Party MP, angered his opposition colleagues on Tuesday, by voting for the passing of the 2010/11 Budget against their common stand. Yesterday, speaking in Parliament, Mr Sitta said the matter was "very complicated", hence his decision to consult legal experts before making his ruling. He said he had received notification from Mr Mohammed on the decision to remove Mr Cheyo from his post for reportedly breaching a common opposition stand and supporting the government estimates of income and expenditure for the next financial year. The Speaker said he had also received a letter from Mr Cheyo, protesting against his removal, arguing that the vote on the Budget was his personal decision, and that he was not obliged to align himself to any opposition stand. Speaker Sitta said though Mr Cheyo's fate would be determined soon, the issue was complex because it involved the interpretation of Parliament's standing regulations. "I have received letters from both parties and have duly forwarded them to Parliament's legal personnel so that they can advise me before I make a decision soon," he said. However, speaking in an interview on the State-owned TBC Radio yesterday, Mr Mohammed said: "The Shadow Cabinet is like an alternative government whose decision to appoint or remove the holder of any portfolio is final and not subject on any other body." He said he was empowered by parliamentary regulations to constitute or disband the Shadow Cabinet. On Tuesday, Mr Mohammed replaced Mr Cheyo as the Shadow Minister with his deputy, Mr Ali Said Salim, of CUF, who is the Ziwani MP. "With the powers bestowed on me under the Parliamentary Standing Order 15, Subsection 1, I hereby reshuffle my Cabinet… Mr Cheyo is no longer the Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development because he has acted against the official agreement of the Shadow Cabinet," Mr Mohammed told a press conference. He was accompanied by his deputy, Dr Willibrod Slaa, the Chadema Secretary General and MP for Karatu. Mr Cheyo went into Mr Mohammed's black book after he gave a thumbs-up to the Sh11.6 trillion 2010/11 Budget, which the opposition had resolved to reject. Out of the Shadow Cabinet, Mr Cheyo will now not enjoy the right to present a 30-minute speech as the opposition spokesperson, when the ministry tables its budget. Instead, he will speak for not more than 10 minutes in his own capacity as an MP, during the general debate. He was the only opposition MP who supported the Budget, even though Mr Shoka Khamis Juma (CUF-Micheweni) appeared to have done the same. However, Mr Juma vehemently denied this, insisting that he had said ‘No' or ‘Sio' in Kiswahili instead of ‘Hapana' (both mean ‘No' in Kiswahili.) Mr Juma also defended himself saying: "I was not in the meeting when my colleagues agreed to use ‘Hapana' instead of ‘Sio'… So when I said ‘Sio' to mean ‘No' many thought I said ‘Ndio' (which means ‘Yes' in Kiswahili)…The fact, however, is that I meant ‘No'". Dr Slaa said it was awkward for any opposition member to clap for the government budget, while the role of opposition parties is to challenge the administration in policy formulation. "Mr Speaker, the opposition political parties are meant give hope to wananchi when they see the ruling party failing them... political parties that clap for the government's budget will always play the ‘escorting role' during elections." Dr Slaa was presenting the opposition's views on the budget proposals for the Prime Minister's office. On Tuesday, Mr Mohammed said this was the second time that Mr Cheyo had ‘betrayed' the Official Opposition. He said it was strange for an opposition MP to give the thumbs up to a budget that "contains numerous potholes" that need immediate redress. "The Official Opposition must be respected. Any members going against it should either resign should be forced to step down," said Mr Mohammed. But Mr Cheyo countered that Mr Mohammed has no powers to relieve him of his shadow ministerial post. He said his purported sacking was a violation of the terms agreed upon when the opposition parties formed a single bench. "As far as I am concerned, I remain the Shadow Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development… Denying me the position means that we have to rescind the agreements reached when we formed the opposition bench," said Mr Cheyo. He said his only problem with the Budget was the Sh8 billion that had been deducted from the allocation to the Office of Controller and Auditor General (CAG). "Now, that the government has assured me that it will give the CAG his Sh8 billion, just as I had asked. I, therefore, have no objection to the budget… A time comes when we have to put national interests ahead of those of our political parties."