16 December 2012

Tanzania: Stop the Meddling in the Katiba Review Process

THE Constitution of Tanzania is now up for another review and the exercise to collect views from the people is now on. Members of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) have for several months been going across the United Republic for the purpose. The exercise has been generally smooth.

That is commendable. We have taken note though of isolated incidences in which some political parties and their follower's people, especially in Zanzibar, have attempted to influence opinion of the viewers or force and impose their will on them on what to say.

As CRC Chairman Judge Joseph Warioba commented during the week, some sessions have been marred by uncivilised acts in which people who were giving their views were either booed or shouted down. Some political parties had even strategically been positioning their members and followers they had handpicked and briefed for the purpose to ensure they are easily spotted and given a chance to speak.

It is also no secret that these parties have both been transporting their members and supporters to the constitution review meetings and transporting the same selected speakers to other venues. Such falsification by some parties, that their views are a popular view has often hit the wall in a number of occasions.

Some of their pre-arranged viewers have even been failing to substantiate their motions when asked to do so! All this is highly deplorable and downright irresponsible considering the fact that the parties themselves are expected to show maturity and sobriety. Wouldn't they be among the beneficiaries of the whole exercise too?

They should, therefore, be more concerned on the conduct of the entire exercise and contribute to its successful completion. Such unruly acts at the views' collection meetings in addition to attempts by political parties to impose their will on the people defeats the whole purpose of the exercise, which seeks to incorporate independent and diverse views of the people in the new Katiba.

It would be a disservice to the people and the country if the commission would fail to take into account all the independent views of the people in its noble duty of rewriting the constitution. The CRC programme has been designed to accommodate everybody.

There will be phases in which community-based organisations, civil societies and political parties will get a chance to air their views before a referendum is held. As Judge Warioba said, let the exercise be free while all uncivilised acts at the CRC meetings should stop at once.

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