17 November 2012

Tanzania: 'New Constitution Must Ensure Equal Rights for All'

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Tanzanians have, in increasing numbers, taken to social media to express their views on the constitution.

THE Executive Director of the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation (MNF), Mr Joseph Butiku, has called for a constitution that would ensure equal rights for all citizens as envisioned by the late Father of the Nation.

Mr Butiku made the remarks in Dar es Salaam on recently while officiating at the 10th annual meeting of civil societies in the country. He was flanked by renowned scholar and former lecturer of law at the University of Dar es Salaam, Prof Issa Shivji.

"The late Mwalimu Nyerere taught us that all people are equal and deserve respect, every citizen has a right to live and participate in national dialogues," Mr Butiku said.

As the Constitution Review Commission (CRM) traverses the country to collect views from the public towards the revision of the basic law, Mr Butiku, a former aide to Mwalimu Nyerere, said the visions of the late president ought to be considered in the re-writing of the new constitution.

"Article 8 of the current constitution stipulates that the authority of the country lies primarily among the people and that is why the CRW is collecting the views of people to re-write the constitution," he said.

On his part, Prof Shivji said a better constitution that would serve generations should be derived from the vision of a country as a whole. Presenting a paper at the meeting, Prof Shivji said any country should have a focused vision, noting that it is the vision that will guide Tanzanians to have a people-focused constitution.

"The recent disorders caused by some religious groups are a result of lack of a clear vision. The lack of vision throws people into pandemonium whilst its presence promotes unity towards similar goals as a nation," the scholar noted.

He said even as the process to collect opinions towards a new constitution had already started in some parts of the country, it was not late though to include the matter. "The vision of the nation and the Arusha declaration will be widely discussed during the Nyerere Academic Forum set for April, next year," he said.

Speaking earlier, the President of Civil Societies in the country, Dr Stigmata Tenga, said the four-day meeting aims at sensitizing non-governmental organizations to participate in the process of rewriting the constitution. It was attended by some 500 delegates.

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