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The East African : March 17th 2014
8 ROAD TO NEW CONSTITUTION Eyes on Sitta in do-or-die phase of law review It’s a ≥ace against time fo≥ chai≥ of the Constituent Assembly tasked with delive≥ing a new constitution By PETER NYANJE The EastAfrican Tanzania’s proposed new constitution in time? This is the question observers are asking as the country enters a critical stage in the review of the supreme law of the land amid missed deadlines, competing party interests and teething issues. It is a familiar job to a fa- W miliar man. Having served as Speaker of the National Assembly for five years (20052010), things are expected to be not so hard for Mr Sitta, the Minister for East African Affairs who was recently elected the chairman of the Constituent Assembly (CA). But things may not be easy for the CA, with several sticking issues haunting it a month after it was constituted. Mr Sitta beat Hashim Rungwe, the 2010 presidential candidate on the NCCRMageuzi ticket, to the position that he will hold for two months or so. His main task will be to lead the CA in debating the second draft constitution and producing a third and final draft that will be subjected to a referendum later in the year. One of the challenges Mr Sitta faces is time. According to the Constitution Review Act, the CA has an initial 70 days to do its work. It has already spent three weeks, its only achievement being the passing of the standing orders, election of the chairman and his deputy and swearing-in of the team. But his experience in run- ning public forums could work for Mr Sitta, who says he has a solution to nearly everything — including the thorny issue of how members will vote, which has split the CA in the middle, one group gunning for an open vote and the other a secret ballot. “Yes, members are divid- ed on the issue but I think there is way out of it,” said Mr Sitta in an interview at his Dodoma home. “I believe how people vote depends on the issues they are voting on. There are issues which merit ill Samuel Sitta beat the odds to deliver CCM supporters at a jostling among presidential hopefuls to succeed Jakaya Kikwete next year has hit a new low . Pic: File WILL IT BE OPEN VOTE OR A SECRET BALLOT, MR CHAIRMAN? “There are issues which merit secret voting while others can be better decided using open voting.” secret voting while others can be better decided using open voting.” He says provisions in the draft constitution on the basic principles should better be decided by secret ballot. “We have religious leaders in the CA and it will not be good if we know their thinking on these issues,” he said. “Making them make public their stand on important issues might cause a conflict with their followers.” Mr Sitta cited chapters one and six of the draft constitution, which talk about government and structure of the Union, as sensitive ones that merit a secret ballot. On the issue of the Union structure, he has made it clear that he prefers the current two governments as opposed to the three proposed by the Constitution Review Commission. He however believes the current system requires an overhaul. Judge Joseph Warioba, who led the CRC, which prepared the draft, is expected to present it to the CA this week. This means the CA will commence debate on the draft law next week, leaving it with under 60 days to finish its work. The law however allows the CA to extend its tenure upon agreement of President Jakaya Kikwete and his Zanzibar counterpart, Dr Ali Mohammed Shein. “That is what speed and standards mean; delivering a quality product on time,” said Mr Sitta. hopefuls to succeed Jakaya Kikwete next year has hit a new low, with dirty tricks becoming more ominous. The tendency has been for CCM politics sinks to a new low T he jostling among the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) presidential COMMENTARY JENERALI ULIMWENGU “CCM will face an increasingly assertive opposition and the fortunes of its candidate will hinge on their public acceptability.” supporters of one postulant maligning and discrediting would-be rivals. That CCM has summoned, cautioned and “banned” a few from premature campaigns has not dampened the enthusiasm of some protagonists. The dirty tricks took a new turn recently when social media platforms carried pictures of Tanzanian banknotes bearing the picture of presumed front runner Edward Lowassa. The obvious implication, said one commentator, would be that Lowassa’s presidency is a foregone conclusion. Dirty tricks? Lowassa was swift in de- nouncing what he termed a desecration of national symbols. He was quoted as saying: “I think this is a bad joke; we should not be playing around with national symbols. I have nothing to do with this thing.” It is not known if the prank was pulled off by his supporters or his detractors were trying to cast him in a bad light. A commentator said this was proof of how low Tanzanian politics had sunk. “If it’s Lowassa’s people, then they have no sense of what is good for their man,” he said. “If it’s his opponents trying to discredit him, then we should brace ourselves for extremely rough times ahead.” The list of those ru- moured to be eyeing Ikulu is growing longer by the week. First are the six summoned by the party structures in Dodoma: Former prime ministers Edward Lowassa and Frederick Sumaye, ministers Stephen Wassira and Bernard Membe, deputy minister January Makamba and ex-minister William Ngeleja. Conspicuously missing though was East African Affairs Minister Samuel Sitta, the new Constituent Assembly (CA) chair and former speaker of the national assembly who is thought to be a front runner, prompting a local journalist to remark: “Sitta has been seen in places of worship raising funds and saying things that suggest he is campaigning, and yet he was not called to Dodoma. There must be a reason why he was not called.” The Dar University law graduate in his early seventies, a long-serving minister and regional governor from the Nyerere days known for his unrelenting ambition and an ability to express himself well, handsomely won the CA vote last week to place himself at the helm of constitution writing. A Dar University don remarked: “This will propel Sam to higher things; knowing him as we do, he will use it to his advantage.” Sitta may have stolen a march on his rivals — unless he fails to rein in the riotous grouping that the CA has proved to be. The other presumed aspirants will hope that he falter. Frequently mentioned in the intraparty tussle is John Magufuli, the Works minister with a PhD in chemis- try who has won accolades for his hands-on approach to road construction — so much so that a Ugandan columnist with The EastAfrican suggested he be naturalised Ugandan so he can do the same for Uganda. With a penchant for populism but lacking in finesse, he is thought to be an unlikely winner. Harrison Mwakyembe, the Transportation minister, is a lawyer with the same handson style. His gung-ho attempts include attempting to make a long-dormant railway line serve Dar. He was the MP whose “Richmond” report seven years ago helped to fell Lowassa, which makes him an archrival of the former premier. His chances are thought to be modest. Eyeing the presidency Frederick Sumaye was among the “Dodoma Six” and is thought to be eyeing the presidency. His main claim to fame is having served 10 years as PM under president Benjamin Mkapa, though that is seen in some quarters as less indicative of his personal merit than of Mkapa’s preference for light intellectual mettle around him. He is famous for stating that he had not known why Tanzania was poor until he spent three months on a summer course at Harvard. Considered a lightweight, he will most likely try his luck next year, just like nine years ago. Stephen Wassira is a rug- ged, straight-talking hulk of a minister with a reputation that has earned him the so- TOUGH CHOICES The EastAfrican NEWS MARCH 15-21,2014 briquet “Tyson” (though it is unclear if he ever boxed anyone in recent times). Seen as Kikwete’s enforcer in his hard-to-define docket of “policy and co-ordination” in the president’s office, the dogged campaigner is nonetheless an unlikely electoral charmer. Technology deputy minis- ter January Makamba, the representative of the “Young Turks,” permanently on social media and projecting a profile of modernity and innovativeness, has a CCM pedigree from an ex-SG father. In his early forties, he meets the minimum age criterion but is perceived to be a novice. A Zanzibari candidate on the other hand, would send signals of a healthy Union and dispel talk of a possible breakup. The choice would be between Zanzibar President Ali Mohammed Shein and Tanzania Defence Minister Hussein Mwinyi, son of Ali Hassan Mwinyi, the island’s last Union president two decades ago. It has also been suggested — though not documented — that Kikwete would prefer a female successor. That would indicate two former “Unocrats”: Lands Minister Anna Tibaijuka, the ex-UN Habitat head, and Justice Minister Asha Rose Migiro, the immediate former UN deputy secretary-general. The former is an activ- ist economist with contacts among world leaders and a fighter who would relish the rough and tumble of a barbed campaign while the latter is a brilliant law lecturer with a sweet smile and little appetite for bruising encounters. Whoever CCM eventually chooses, it must bear in mind that it will have competition from an increasingly assertive opposition and that the fortunes of its candidate will hinge on public acceptability.
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March 24th 2014