Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Arusha Residents Scared of Religious Bigotry

SOME people who contribute opinions to enrich the proposed new constitution are concerned that religious differences and Union matters are likely to create a rift between the people in various localities.

Hundreds of people who have been turning up at the public rallies organized by the Constitution Reform Committee here, have been so enthusiastic to get chance to present their views that some virtually fought for it. Most of those who aired their views were particularly irked by current state of affairs where religious groups were becoming "too vocal" and even intolerant of other groups.

Some wanted the new constitution to draw clearcut boundaries on matters of faith. Others wanted the number of mushrooming Christian denominations and other charismatic congregations to be restricted. The concern here is that at the moment there is a 'church' after every two households in Arusha, with some operating from the backyards of residential properties.

Others want the new document to declare that since Tanzania was a secular state, not affiliated to any religious sect, then all religions, denominations and their related institutes should pay taxes. "General elections should not be held on Sundays or any other worshiping day for that matter, street preachers should be controlled, religious demonstrations be curbed and faith-based media outlets be banned," were among the suggestions.

As for the Tanganyika and Zanzibar Union, Arusha residents called for either a single government or three governments, complaining that the 1964 union of the two states, Zanzibar (Isles) retained its identity, flag and anthem while Tanganyika (mainland) was killed in the process.

Arusha residents also wanted the President of the United Republic of Tanzania be cut down to size through the constitutional review which, as far as they are concerned, should remove immunity covering the head of state so that the latter could still be dragged to court while still in office.

They also wanted the constitution to take away the power of the president in anointing heads of state organs such as ministries, police forces, judiciary and special seat parliamentarians. Constitutional review meetings under the CRC Chairman, Justice Joseph Sinde-Warioba, have been taking place in Mbauda, Majengo, Ngarenaro, Sanawari, Sekei and Kimandolu areas of Arusha city and recorded good attendance of people here.

Among the outspoken contributors in the above issues include; Ms Yusta Tesha, Mr Simon Martin, Mr Mohamed Thabit, Ms Clara Gama, Ms Grace Shija, Ms Jovitha Mlay, Ms Awaichi Sakara and Mr Shabir Miradji Hemed. Other residents here chose to write down their opinions and views on the provided special fill-out forms that were distributed at the meetings and collected afterwards.

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