20 November 2012

Tanzania: Social Media Boosts Katiba Process

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

NEARLY one million Tanzanians have, so far, given their views on the desired contents of the envisaged Constitution. A further 50,000 people have aired their views through mobile phones and the social media.

The Chairman of the Constitution Review Commission, Judge Joseph Warioba, told journalists in Dar es Salaam that the number of participants at the Commission's meetings keeps increasing as days roll on. The number of people who present their views to the Commission through mobile phones and the social media is increasing too.

He said that a total of 27,992 people have visited the Commission's Facebook page in the last third phase, comparing to the 21,789 who visited the page in the second phase while 6,909 participants sent views through short message services (SMS). Only 77 people took part through mobile phone messages during the second phase.

The Commission has, so far, visited 24 regions. Yesterday it started the fourth phase in Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Simiyu, Geita, Mara and Zanzibar Urban West regions. The phase is slated to end on December 19, this year. Giving the statistics, Judge Warioba, a former Prime Minister and Chief Justice, said that during the third phase out of the 392,385 people who attended the meetings, 21,512 gave their views orally while 84,939 gave views in writing.

"The Commission has been delighted by the way members of the public have utilized these meetings. They have offered valuable contributions in a more democratic and freer manner than the case was in July when we started," he said. On the allegations that the Commission has not visited many people in its last phases, Judge Warioba said the collected views is a good sample that presents the views of the majority.

However, he said, in some regions his team was forced to increase the number of meetings after realizing that many people showed up to give their views. He gave the example of the just ended phase where the Commission was forced to hold 522 meetings instead of the scheduled 496.

Judge Warioba pointed out that contrary to the allegations, the Commission has received many views from the disadvantaged members of the society. He added that the commission will make sure that all nine groups of disabled persons are reached.

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