13 December 2012

Tanzania: Warioba Warns Politicians On Zanzibar

Photo: Fadhili Akida/Daily News
President Jakaya Kikwete (center), Zanzibar President Ali Mohamed Shein (left) congratulate each other following their landslide victories as the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi Chairman and Vice-Chairman.

THE Constitution Review Commission (CRC) has taken a swipe at political leaders who have been interfering with the process of collecting views from the people on the new constitution by influencing their members on what to say, asking them to stop it at once.

CRC has at the same time strongly denied accusations levelled at the commission, specifically by the Civic United Front (CUF), that it had been favouring CCM in the course of collecting views in Zanzibar.

"The problem in Zanzibar has been that officials of political parties are trying to influence what people should say when they appear before the commission.

They are literally stage managing the exercise by imposing their will on the members, CRC Chairman Judge Joseph Warioba, told the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salam.

Judge Warioba said, for example, that such meddling political party leaders had been preparing their followers on what to say on the type of Union that should come about, in addition to other positions of the said parties. "They have been forcing them to air their parties' positions; there have been occasions in which they have been transporting the people to the views collection venues.

They have even been positioning their prepared members strategically for them to be easily spotted and selected," Judge Warioba reported. He further reported incidences in which political parties shuttle their handpicked and well-briefed followers from one venue to another and from one meeting to another and ensured that they got a chance to air their 'premeditated views.'

The CRC chairman also decried the habit of people who boo at each other and shouting down speakers from other parties or those with views that are opposed to theirs. "Sometimes these sessions can turn violent," he pointed out. "Accusations that the commission is biased is just a scapegoat.

The problem is the parties themselves. Such acts are against the law, which provides that the people should air their views freely. They must stop forthwith," Judge Warioba strongly urged. Judge Warioba, a former attorney general, cabinet minister, prime minister and first vice-president and retired East African Court of Justice Judge, said that the experience for his commission in Zanzibar has been very rough.

"The commission is sorry to report that things there are stage managed," he added. He said the situation in Zanzibar was in sharp contrast with the one on the Mainland where sessions are more organised and genuine. "The situation in Zanzibar must change.

"The political parties there must stop exerting undue influence on their members and followers, he urged, adding that CCM and CUF were behind such disruption." The commission has at the present stage been collecting views from individuals. Collection of views from organizations, including community-based ones, civil societies and political parties will come later, to be followed by a referendum, making the said interferences uncalled for.

According to reports from Zanzibar, two main political parties there, CCM and CUF, are blaming each other for the violence that rocked the CRC meetings in Magomeni and Mpendae in the municipality recently. The parties, which form the Government of National Unity (GNU), have each released press statements condemning each other for the chaos that prompted members of the commission to cancel the meetings on Monday and Tuesday.

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