21 November 2012

Tanzania: Presidential Powers Debate Heats Up

Photo: Marco Castro/UN Photo
President Jakaya Kikwete (file photo).

THE issue of curtailing presidential powers in the new constitution resurfaced again during a Constitutional Review Committee meeting held at Majohe, Dar es Salaam.

The majority of those who gave their views want the constitution to clip presidential powers when it comes to appointing judges and other government officials, and remove immunity to facilitate legal action against those who will sabotage the economy.

They also revealed that they want the new constitution to declare Friday a weekend to allow Muslims to hold prayers and rest as it is the case with Christians on Sunday.

Many noted that judges should be given the position once proven competent by a specific commission or council through advertising for the position. It was also noted that the president should only appoint the Prime Minister, thereafter, let the PM formulate the cabinet by getting competent and qualified ministers who should not be members of parliament.

Removing immunity for the president and other high profile public servants, the public noted, will allow for those misusing public offices for their own interests to be arraigned.

Although the issue of a three-tier government dominated the gathering, many also opposed it, noting that it should remain as it is, to avoid high costs of running three governments. Furaha Jerry Mbega, 34, from Majohe Kichangani, noted that the current system of government has proved profitable adding that small union issues that have emerged can be addressed.

Mr Sibanganya Paulo whose views were also echoed by some of the participants, said the new constitution should specify that there be equal sharing of natural resources revenue, noting that the government should have a system such that those without proper jobs are given money for upkeep.

Happy Shemaya Magati of Kigogo Fresh said the constitution should bar members of parliament from leaving their constituencies to live in Dar es Salaam, to make it easier for people in their areas to reach them with ease.

She explained that once they are voted in, MPs relocate to Dar es Salaam, and rarely go back to their constituencies; unless they need something from the public. Alfa Dauld Alfa, a businessman at Majohe, said the new constitution should allow the National Electoral Commission to be formed by all political parties to remove bureaucracy and vote rigging during elections.

He also noted that the new constitution should officially recognize all religions in the country and officially make Friday a weekend as it is for Sunday. Ruth Robert Malya of Majohe noted that the new constitution should have sections where leaders who sabotage the economy by amassing wealth for themselves are removed from power and legal action taken against them.

Nelson Wambura said the constitution should specify that five to 10 per cent of employment opportunities in the private sector go to disabled people, whom he noted have been sidelined for long.

Halima Mohammed Maganga, 19, who is a student, said the new constitution should make it clear that police officers in the country identify themselves to the public using their identity cards.

Ms Maganga noted that currently, police officers do not respect people's rights and use excessive force where it's not even necessary and they do not identify themselves expecting the public to know them through their uniforms.

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