15 December 2012

Tanzania: Religion Tops Arusha's Constitution Grievances

Arusha residents who have been contributing their views on the proposed new constitution seem to find matters related to religion and the union between the mainland and Zanzibar of great concern.

Hundreds of people who have been turning up for the public rallies organized by the constitution reform committee here, not only fought to get chances to air their views but most seemed to be well prepared for the occasion.

Most of those who aired their views were particularly irked by current state of affairs where religious groups were becoming 'too outspoken' and intolerant of other groups and they wanted the new constitution to come up with clauses that would place boundaries on matters of faith.

Left: A man walks up to the microphone to air his constitutional reform views as others queue for their turn.

Others wanted the mushrooming churches and other charismatic congregations to be restricted to controllable numbers and pointed out that at the moment there is a 'church' after every two households in Arusha, with some operating from the backyards of residential properties.

There are those who wanted 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 Presidency 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 be dragged to court while still in office.

They also wanted the constitution to take away the power of the president in picking 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.

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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