The stand-off in the Constituent Assembly could end up giving Tanzanians a Constitution that will be useful for only a few years.
This was said by the Constitutional Review Commission Chairman retired Justice Joseph Warioba in Dar es Salaam yesterday when he delivered a keynote address at the launch of a survey report titled: ‘What do people really think of the constitution?’, released by Twaweza.
According to Warioba, the current CA proceedings lack consensus and are full of abusive language. He cautioned: “Members are divided into groups… we should expect a certain group’s constitution that will not last for more than ten years.”
Warioba said wananchi played their role by airing views for the new constitution. He said the only problem facing CA members is that they shifted from discussing the draft to issues of their own interest at the expense of the people.
“They all claim to represent wananchi but actually they represent views of their political parties”, said the former Premier, insisting that Tanzanians must get a new Mother Law.
He advised members of the CA and leaders to reconcile and proceed with the constitution writing process, urging them to avoid using abusive language in the debating chamber.
He said that claims that a three-government structure would result in the government failing to pay the army personnel were not supposed to be debated in the house.
He maintained that there are times when the army faced problems and some soldiers even missed uniforms, but they did not turn against the government.
Presenting the research findings, Rakesh Rajani, Head of Twaweza, said results of their survey conducted in both the mainland and Zanzibar show that 65 percent of people in the mainland and 62 percent in the Isles support the draft constitution.
Rajani said most people were concerned with key issues in the constitution. He said they wanted the government and public servants to be accountable and transparency should be increased at all levels.
“True leadership is not about forcefully advocating your own opinion, but appreciating different opinions and crafting a new agreement based on core principles and shared interests,” he said.
A lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Prof Kitila Mkumbo, was of the view that the Constitution Review Act (CRA) should be amended to allow the President to re-appoint CA members. He said that legislators still have a chance to amend the CRA in the coming parliamentary budget sessions.
“The CRA can be tabled under a certificate of urgency in the coming ‘Bunge’ meeting”, he suggested.
According to Dr Mkumbo, the President should postpone the CA in order to reflect on the issues raised by every group before proceeding. He said the CA is full of politicians, resulting in the debates being hijacked by political parties.
Prof Palamagamba Kabudi of the University of Dar es Salaam who was a CRC member said in debating the Union structure, CA members should also discuss the system governing it.
He emphasised that views incorporated in the draft constitution were not personal. “The draft was not of our making. It comes from views of the people…it is upon the people to defend their views,” he said.
According to him, Tanzanians deserve a good constitution that comes from their own views.
Dr Hamis Kigwangala, a CA member who represented the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi applauded the CRC for a job well done. However, he said the CRC proposal to bring back the government of Tanganyika was unlawful.
Julius Mtatiro, the CUF Deputy Secretary General (Mainland) and Executive Secretary of the Coalition of the People’s Constitution (Ukawa) challenged CA members who question the data submitted by the Warioba commission, especially on the Union structure.
He said almost all the key issues were contributed by a few people as a sample.