22 January 2013

Tanzania: Sitta for Upright Office Seekers

EAST African Cooperation Minister Samuel Sitta has advised that integrity should be Qualification Number One for persons seeking public office, including the presidency.

"There are various criteria in the current constitution for persons wishing to become the president of Tanzania and integrity is certainly not one of them", Mr Sitta, one of the longest serving MPs and former Speaker of Parliament said in Dar es Salaam yesterday, calling for its inclusion.

Briefing reporters after giving his views to the Constitution Review Commission (CRC), Mr Sitta said he wanted the constitution to provide for the formation of a special organ that will screen nominated candidates for integrity flaws before they are approved for presidential races.

As one example, the veteran politician and cabinet minister suggested that leaders with a history of funds' embezzlement should not be allowed to assume the country's top office "where they will have powers to continue with their embezzlement ways in a bigger way".

He added that new constitution should emphasise on the equality of Tanzanians and the rights of the majority instead of focusing on individual rights. "All Tanzanians, for example, have the right to access beaches but some investors have erected structures along the shoreline where they make people pay.

The new constitution must stop things like this," he said. According to the former Speaker, the society should be made powerful and the people given powers by the constitution to decide on their day-to-day lives.

On the legislative assembly, Mr Sitta pointed out that one parliament is more than enough for Tanzania, adding that the constitution should also put a limit on the number of MPs. "Having two parliaments as some people have suggested will be wastage of resources because the number of MPs we have so far is already too big.

The constitution should state that the number of MPs in the House shall not exceed 360," he observed. Mr Sitta further noted that India, which has over one billion people, has a parliament of 500 MPs, adding that it would, therefore, be without merit for Tanzania, with only 44.9 million people, to have a bigger parliament.

Last week, former Prime Minister John Malecela advised that there was a need to introduce a bicameral system of parliament so that issues of national interest can be debated exhaustively by the legislature. Meanwhile, elders have proposed establishment of elders' councils in various levels in the country and introduction of two seats in the parliament for the representatives of elders.

Tanzania Social Protection Network (TSPN) Chairperson Ms Teresa Minja said that the organisation represented the elderly people, people with physical disabilities and orphans in giving their views at the CRC yesterday.

"We want elders' councils from village to national level and members of the council should be aged above 60 years and from there we want two seats in the parliament where we will be electing a man and a woman to represent elders," she submitted. She added that such councils will not be affiliated to any political party but would be acting as the voices of the elders.

In another development, Ms Minja said new constitution should also establish universal pension where all the elders will be getting pension. "Elders who have retired from various offices and qualify for pension account for 4 per cent only; the rest (96 per cent) are either farmers or pastoralists; we need universal pension to account for them as well," she said.

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