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The East African : February 17th 2014
10 CONSTITUTION MAKING The EastAfrican NEWS FEBRUARY 15-21,2014 dered if that is what the president wants. Certain nominees are die- hard opponents of the proposed three-tier Union structure, while others will have the three governments or nothing at all. At least one of the members of the CA, the self-anointed “reverend” Christopher Mtikila, is known to openly oppose the very idea of Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar. He has publicly declared that Zanzibar is a foreign nation. Some of the names on the list read like they are straight out of some political Jurassic Park, individuals whose public relevance ended decades ago but whose comeback is owed only to the fact that they own parties that are still in the official register. Old ruling party apparatchiks from the 1960s are listed as representing some civil society organisations that few people are familiar with. Crying foul The Pentecostal church has Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete speaking to Zanzibaris in 2011. Picture: File Constitutional ≥eview g≥inds on, but could it be heading towa≥ds collapse? COMMENTARY JENERALI ULIMWENGU “The CA is mandated to meet for an initial 70 days in which it is expected to produce a draft constitution” P resident Jakaya Kikwete has finally released the list of Tanzanians who have been nominated to form the Constituent Assembly (CA). The nominated members join the current Union parliament and the Zanzibar House of Representatives to write the draft constitution to be presented to a referendum. The current Union parliament has a total of 337 members, while the Zanzibar House of Representatives has 81 and the specially nominated members of the CA are 201, which aggregates into 619 members of the CA. So huge is the number that the meeting hall for the parliamentary plenary has been recalibrated by introducing smaller chairs to replace the usual swinging chairs in which our overpaid legislators used to slumber. The CA is mandated to meet for an initial 70 days within which it is expected to produce a draft constitution that has to be presented to referendum, which will comprise one question only: Do you accept this draft constitution as the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania? The answer will be either “Yea” or “Nay.” The whole constitutional re- The ruling party will no doubt hold a trump card courtesy of its majority and may easily produce a document that the referendum may reject.” view process is governed by the Constitutional Review Act, Cap 83 of 2012, which sets out the step-by-step evolution of the review, about which there has been no shortage of controversy. The process till now, was led by a team under Justice Joseph Warioba, who has earned himself the status of whipping boy of ruling party stalwarts who live in the past and who did not want the constitutional review in the first place. Justice Warioba team collect- ed views in open meetings and received written presentations, interviewed individuals and groups and constituted “constitutional fora” across the land. Though marred by argu- ments about exclusions and the endemic corruption, the team acquitted itself honourably. Indeed, a sizeable number of the commissioners were people of high repute and unimpeachable integrity. Accusations That did not stop ruling party cadres hurling accusations at Justice Warioba’s person and insinuating ulterior motives. The silver lining in this cloud of unthinking was provided when another respected retired judge, Mark Bomani, who like Justice Warioba has served as Attorney General, waded into the fray and chastised Justice Warioba’s detractors. Mr Bomani asked the critics to simply go back to the history of the debate that has been going on for three decades to see how the three-tier idea cannot be a Warioba virus. KEY ISSUES The second draft constitution proposes a three-tier union, but Chama cha Mapinduzi favours the current two-government setup. In the new set up, the Tanganyika government would have its own president, parliament and other organs. CITIZENSHIP: The draft recommends that there should be only one citizenship — that all people should be citizens of the United Republic of Tanzania. The review team ignored recommendations on dual citizenship. The team said it received mixed views regarding dual citizenship, with the majority at the border saying they wanted it because of services they accessed from neighbouring countries. TERM LIMIT: A maximum of three five-year-terms is all a Member of Parliament in Tanzania will serve if the draft All this to no avail, because the forces of selective amnesia work wonders where political agendas override history, memory and logic prior to the nominations of the CA, the general populace had been advised to make suggestions of names from which the president would choose. That gave the president enor- mous powers, because out of say three names proposed he had much leeway to pick whomsoever he fancied. In the end, though, it would constitution is passed. CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The draft constitution bars MPs from being appointed to the Cabinet and blocks them from making decisions about their own salaries. ACCOUNTABILITY: Apart from barring public servants, who include elected officials, from engaging in business, the draft further prohibits a public servant from taking part in any determination of a matter in which the public servant’s spouse, child, relative, friend or any close associate is involved. FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNTS: Public servants are also barred from opening or owning a foreign bank account unless proper procedures, which include express permission from the Bank of Tanzania, are followed. seem that there was no grand scheme on the part of the president to colour the CA with his personal brushstrokes, as he appears to have given space to all the registered parties and a nod here and there to some civil society bodies. The inescapable reality com- ing out of these nominations, however, is that the CA will be so disparate and so divergent in political views as to make it incapable of reaching any substantive decision on the mooted draft; some observers even won- cried foul over its exclusion, and the usually vocal Jukwaa la Katiba (Constitutional Forum) has also complained for the same reason. The battle lines have been drawn, and we should expect more of the same as deliberations get underway. From this coming week — CA deliberations begin on February 18 — these discordant voices will be contending for attention, and one suspects it will be much ado about nothing, to coin a phrase. Many of the delegates will be talking PAST each other or AT each other, or ABOUT each other, or AGAINST each other; very few will be talking WITH each other. The ruling party will no doubt hold a trump card courtesy of its majority and may easily produce a document that the referendum may reject. That, as the president said when being presented with the Warioba draft, would mean continuing with the current constitution, which opposition parties are unhappy with. This would lead to a constitutional crisis, all the protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. Political posturing Now, any stillborn constitu- tional baby will not play well with a public that has become jaded with all the noise coming out of the process, all the wrangling and posturing among political hacks. There is also a potentially false alarm over the amount of daily allowances to be paid to the members of the CA, some of the figures being bandied around suggesting someone is too liberal with his zeroes. It is known that legislators in our region are given to voting huge pay packets for themselves. It will indeed be a crying shame if at the end of all the brouhaha and the noisy exchanges, and after so much money has been expended, there is nothing to show for it. Really, a crying shame. Watch this space.
February 10th 2014
February 24th 2014