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Thin veiled attack on the christian leadership ant trumpeting for ruling party

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by Adili, Jan 17, 2011.

  1. A

    Adili JF-Expert Member

    Jan 17, 2011
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    Case for two stage method of new constitution quest
    By Ani Jozen

    15th January 2011

    Before President Jakaya Kikwete has nominated or otherwise appointed a knowledgeable jurist to head a new constitutional review commission, the procedure or rather the plan has more or less been rejected by the mainstay of civic activist groups and the media. As far as they can see – and it is hard to dispute that point of view – the constitutional review format leads to amendments of the constitution where the commission would so propose and Parliament or the president assent, so it becomes law. The most popular idea, and evidently a number of political groups will agitate for it, is entirely different.
    That idea is a method that parallels what happened in Kenya, known as the Bomas process, where people meet in formally constituted constitutional conferences and puts to test various ideas as to what the constitution should contain. These are then summarised in their political or logical form, and on that basis a constitutional commission is constituted to write up those ideas in a constitutional format, as Preamble, Short Title and Interpretation, Chapter I, Chapter II, etc. It is thus a process where one assumes that nothing worthwhile exists, and everything is at stake, to take little notice of what there is.
    When the commission that the president envisages to pick is actually constituted, a huge political wave of contention will start as to what precisely the commission would be doing, and it will meet with keen and detailed resistances all the way. It will find it impossible to work in the usual format in which such commissions work, that is, call to testify or otherwise to share ideas with anyone or groups as it may have time to listen to or wish to summon, or receive by application from interested quarters, put those ideas together in a report, and hand it to the president. That method will simply be excessively objected.
    Obviously it isn't hard to comprehend the other way of going about with the issues, but the problem is the political mandate of doing so, of actually calling a constitutional conference as if there is no valid or worthwhile constitution existing. Kenya could afford that interpretation of the constitution as electoral chaos swept the country in 1992 when multipartism was allowed back, followed by an equally severe spate of violence in 1997, replicated to a certain extent in 2002 and with the dispute about results, was even more grotesque late 2007/08. One couldn't credibly talk of a unifying ethical text, for all people.
    For some political reason that needs not be cultivated here, there is a broad school of thought in the country which is now educating the people that the current constitution is worthless, that it is not out of question that in the course of contributing ideas, this or that contributor remembers what the current constitution holds, as a reference manual, etc. It is not quite the sort of impression one gathers those whom the president would appoint to constitute a constitutional review commission would be having concerning the constitution, but to work harmoniously with civil society, they will have to be born again, into anarchy as it were. They would take the position that there is just a CCM dictatorship.
    The difference between previous constitutional reviews and the present is that earlier there were some groups of activists, or anarchists to use a valid technical term in ideological sense, without profound roots in civil society. This time, the mainstream churches are behind the Bomas method because of the profound conviction that had it not been for the government's control of the constitutional process, the occupant or tenant of the State House would have been different by now. So there is a fixed idea of participating only in a Bomas conference, not in a process controlled by a judge, Parliament, president!
    Given the background of a creeping penchant for demonstrations from all sectors of society for their demands, after two years or so of civic education, of 'tafakari, chukua hatua' led to positive action in a direct manner as manifestation of consciousness by all concerned groups, debate on the constitutional process will be sterile. Ideologues of the Bomas method believe that all what is required is the 'political will' from the president so that everything is done according to the constitutional conference format, as most activists are fully persuaded will work best. Even CCM isn't sufficiently unified as to the issues.
    Given the fact that CCM is vacillating about any steps the government takes about opposition, as senior ministers like premier Mizengo Pinda are overly sensitive to criticism from the bishops, and the views or feelings of the latter concerning the CCM victory aren't hidden from view, it will be hard to maintain unity in CCM. The ruling party's adversaries are fully united in what they want, but its supporters are divided between a few enthusiastic supporters and a vaster crowd of lukewarm adherents to its cause, often because they have kith and kin who are in government, CCM itself, etc. Their loyalty is uncertain.
    One has a reverse of the 1992 situation when the government was faced with a decision to make about restoring political pluralism, as Mwalimu explained that though there was just a minority actively seeking pluralism, those in the majority supporting the ruling party would suffer no privations because of pluralism. In other words everyone would be free, those seeking pluralism would be free to organize and those supporting the ruling party would remain organized, and poised to win elections as usual. In the current situation things aren't so harmonious, as opposition wants little less than just ejecting CCM.
    Were it that the opposition, and for that matter civic groups like bishops who can throw a spanner into the works with militant positions as we are now used to hearing from them, the latest being to disown a contested victor of a mayoral poll in Arusha, before the case was put to court. Chances of lessening the militancy of episcopacy are few or none at all, and consequently it has to be admitted that the format the bishops and opposition want, if taken up, constitutes in little else but a ceremony to bury the ruling party. And definitely, that isn't what the president was elected to do, or swore recently to use his skills.
    To avoid hitting demonstrating crowds with clubs every other day because they don't want the person the president would have appointed as commission chairman, or the agenda he is putting forward, a two stage method is required. The commission should first move to establish, by vast consultation, if there is need for a new constitution, or amendments, and if any amendments are needed, what those would be – by pointing to intractable areas of conflict since the last amendment was conducted in 1994, relating to separating the office of Isles President from Union Vice President. Most of criticism of the 1977 text is hot air, and it will be thus demonstrated that little case exists for amendments, let alone a full rewrite.
    But were it that the commission finds that there is a substantial or nearly overwhelming voice for such rewrite, then the matter could be put to a referendum and CCM campaign for the 'no.' The reason is that we have had peace for 49 years with this constitution, and 16 years of working with the major 1994 amendments and there is no point throwing it out. And finally, the opposition has poorly constituted ideas as to what the constitution should provide, each group has its confused priorities, texts, slogans...

  2. B

    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Jan 17, 2011
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    Honestly I have failed to make head or tail of this piece!! How can one pre-judge the opposition's ideas when the process of constitution making has not even started!