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Tanzania off to a false start over new laws

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by nngu007, Nov 23, 2011.

  1. nngu007

    nngu007 JF-Expert Member

    Nov 23, 2011
    Joined: Aug 2, 2010
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    Posted Sunday, November 20 2011 at 17:57

    It is now clear that the journey to a new Constitution in Tanzania will be a bumpy one, going by the divergent approaches being pushed by the ruling party, opposition politicians and civil society activists.

    Chama cha Mapinduzi MPs have supported the government move to table the Constitutional Review Bill 2011 for a second reading in parliament while Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), NCCR-Mageuzi and the Tanzania Constitutional Platform have rejected it.

    Members of Parliament for Chadema and NCCR-Mageuzi said last week that they would not participate in the debate on the Bill but would speak directly to citizens.

    "Let the people decide about the Constitution because it is theirs," they said soon after they walked out during the debate on the Bill. The secretary for opposition MPs in parliament, John Mnyika said, "We have agreed to take the matter to the court of public opinion."

    He said the opposition opposed the Bill's being read for the second time, because since it was translated into Kiswahili, it has never been taken to the public for discussion. The first time the Bill was tabled, it was rejected because it was in English.

    The central committees of Chadema and NCCR-Mageuzi met separately last week to deliberate on the way ahead while the Chadema youth wing has already called for a countrywide demonstration.

    The chairman of the Constitutional Platform, Deus Kibamba, said they were going to meet to decide on the date and modality of the proposed countrywide demonstrations.

    "We have decided to hold countrywide demonstrations to tell the world what is going on concerning the process of forming our new constitution," said Mr Kibanba.

    The Tanganyika Law Society has warned against accepting the Bill the way it is and asked President Jakaya Kikwete not to sign it if it is passed by parliament.

    Chadema deputy secretary general Zitto Kabwe urged a national consensus over the issue, noting that if each party decides to push its position, Tanzanians will not get the Constitution they desire.

    "We were supposed to take this as a national issue," he said, adding, "It should not be regarded as an issue for political parties or the government. Let's critically think of what we want to achieve first."

    Bagamoyo University Vice Chancellor Dr Sekondo Mvungi was quoted by the media last week as saying, "This is a CCM government invention, it has never happened anywhere for a fresh Bill to be read for the second time."

    Dr Mvungi also supported the Chadema walkout, urging other people to also protest in streets.

    Prof Mwesiga Baregu of St Augustine University echoed Dr Mvungi's views, saying a new Constitution should come from Tanzanians, not from the ruling party. Prof Baregu, who is also a member of the Chadema central committee, accused CCM of thinking that it alone understands what Tanzanians need.

    He added, "While the public want the process of forming a new Constitution to be negotiable, the government wants to control the entire process in favour of the ruling party; this is not acceptable."

    Former Cabinet minister and attorney general Andrew Chenge also advised the government to make changes in the Constitution Review Bill to force the president to be more open. Contributing to the debate in parliament last week, the Bariadi West MP on a CCM ticket, proposed that a new sub-section be inserted in the proposed law to force the president to publicly release the report he will receive from the commission collecting views on the new Constitution.

    Mr Chenge, who served as the AG for 10 years during the third phase government, asked the government to rewrite other sections to make it clear how wananchi will participate in the process.

    Contributing to the debate on the Act in the Parliament, Mr Chenge said he had no problem with the section that empowers the president to form the commission.

    Mr Chenge suggested that parliament should also think of enacting a public opinion law to guide the collection of public opinion for Tanzania Mainland instead of using the General Election and Local Government Elections laws as suggested in the current document.