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Tanzania: Constitution Confusion

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by nngu007, Nov 14, 2011.

  1. nngu007

    nngu007 JF-Expert Member

    Nov 14, 2011
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    The Citizen (Dar es Salaam)
    13 November 2011
    Dar/Zanzibar and Dodoma - The process to write a new constitution was thrown into confusion yesterday with many people rejecting the government's decision to table the Constitutional Review Bill for the second reading.In his comments, the chairman for Jukwaa la Katiba (Constitution Platform), Mr Deus Kibamba, said MPs have an opportunity to safeguard the interests of Tanzanians irrespective of their political affiliation.He warned that if the Bill were tabled for the second reading, the Platform would lead a nationwide demonstration to protest the move.

    On top of this opposition from the Platform, members of the House of Representatives in Zanzibar have called for the shelving of the constitution writing process until people get the opportunity to debate and decide on the type of Union they want.

    However, many people who contributed on the Bill were apparently misguided in that they aired views on the kind of constitution they want instead of how the process to write a new constitution should be carried out.

    In Dodoma, the dean of School of Law at the University of Dar es Salaam, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi on Saturday pleaded with MPs not to be emotional during the discussions of the Bill so as to forestall violence and unnecessary misunderstandings.

    In Dar es Salaam, many people who contributed at the symposium organised by the Jukwaa la Katiba, urged the government to rescind its decision to table the Bill for the second reading.

    They also urged the MPs to reject the Bill if the government tables it for the second time. They wanted more people across the country to go through the Bill, which has been written afresh after the earlier version was rejected in April.

    Jukwaa member Christina Kamili said that the Bill should not proceed to the second reading because it has many weaknesses.

    Ms Kamili noted that there wasn't enough consultation with various crucial groups before the drafting of the Bill.

    A professor from the University of Dar es Salaam, Josephat Kanywani, who represented the Interfaith Community, noted that what Tanzanians needed now was drastic changes in their lives that have been deteriorating since independence.

    "This (writing of new constitution) is an opportunity that has presented itself to Tanzanians and nobody should mess around with it... Laws are made to serve the people, not vice versa," he said adding:

    "We should not rush to have a constitution just for the sake of it, let us have a constitution which can work for Tanzanians."

    A representative from the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (Tucta) Mr Hezron Kaaya, wondered why the drafting of the Bill had sidelines the participation of the workers.

    "Let the current leaders note that times have changed. Many of voters are young people. In 2015, these youth will constitute a big voting bloc... Conservative leaders should beware of the changing trends," he warned.
    He said those defending the current constitution are doing so because they benefit from it. It provides them with huge material benefits and protection upon their retirement, he charged.

    "We don't expect them to crave for a new constitution which comes from the people. We don't expect a minister to agree to a constitution which reduces hi powers," he said.

    He said workers should not agree with a constitution they had no say during its writing.

    Ms Maria Charles from the Disabled Association of Tanzania also said disabled people do not agree with the Bill which the government is tabling in Parliament today because their views were not taken on board.

    "If we were sidelined in the preparation of the Bill, will we be involved in the process of writing the new constitution?" she asked

    Giving their views on the revised Constitutional Review Bill scheduled for the second reading today in the Parliament, the majority of legislators at the meeting held on Saturday criticized the proposed Bill content and process.
    Debating the Bill in a workshop, House of Representatives members demanded that a referendum be held as soon as possible so that people decide whether they want to maintain the current Union set up or have it changed ahead of having a new constitution.

    "We still have many problems in the Union, and people want to decide on it. Call for a referendum before having a new constitution," Mr Hamza Hassan Juma from CCM said.

    Mr Juma was supported by other such as Mr Saleh Nassor Juma from CUF who argued that the government should avoid wasting millions of taxpayers' money on a new constitution before the fate of the Union is known. "Let us be transparent and let people decide on union through referendum," he emphasised amid cheers.