26 November 2012

Tanzania: Zanzibar CRC Debates Centre On Union

Photo: The Daily News
President Jakaya Kikwete (left) speaks to a government official (file photo).

AS the period set by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to collect views from individuals nears its end, the majority of Zanzibaris have, during debates, only focused on union issues.

The exercise is scheduled to end on December 20, 2012. Most of the CRC forums in the islands have been dominated by arguments on Zanzibar's interests in the union, with some saying that the current structure is not beneficial to Zanzibaris.

In the ongoing collection of views from people in Zanzibar, Ms Fatma Said Ali from the CRC asked women to speak out and propose how the new constitution should protect women's rights and other areas of development. Judge (retired) Augustine Ramadhani also from CRC told Zanzibaris, "speak your mind and suggest different issues you think may help you, the people, and the nation."

Fortunately in response to Fatma and Judge Ramadhani's advices, Mr Omar Suleiman had to think outside the box (union), suggesting that the next constitution should have clauses that allow people with disabilities to easily contest for political posts including president, and special consideration in job opportunities.

However, Mr Thabit Hassan, a university student who has been following up the CRC forums in Zanzibar, says that politicians and religious leaders are to blame for the single focus on union! "Unfortunately, major political parties CCM and CUF, and the Uamsho leaders prepared followers to concentrate on union matters only.

It is difficult to change their mindset," he observes. In almost all the past CRC forums in Zanzibar, the majority of people talked about the union between Zanzibar and Tanganyika.

While CCM wants the structure to remain as it is, CUF and Uamsho leaders drum for changes particularly the rebirth of Zanzibar and Tanganyika before agreeing on some areas of cooperation (Contract union).

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