5 July 2013

Tanzania: Constitution Review Process Meet Takes Twitter On Board

A CONSULTATIVE meeting on the Constitutional Review Process in Tanzania which kicked off in Dar es Salaam has accommodated twitters to contribute to the discussions.

The strategic meeting is now open to those interested in sending their views by tweeting through the twitter hash tag: #OSIEAkatibatz. The meeting continues today and welcomes twitters to send their ideas on the constitutional review process.

Opening the meeting, University of Dar es Salaam don, Prof Chris Maina Peter, described the draft constitution as a good document which indicates good faith and logical thinking on the part of the Constitutional Review Commission.

"The fact that the Commission has managed to work in harmony and unanimously to produce a document of this calibre is a commendable feat and a lesson to all of us," he said. He cautioned that it will be a pity if, as has often happened, personal interests pushed people to try to frustrate the noble exercise.

He said the draft constitution had exceeded most of people's expectations. "The difference between the current constitution and the draft one is like the difference between heaven and earth," he said.

Prof Peter said the document was not a product of one of those endless "retreats" which are all too common. "There is no doubt that it comes directly from the views given by Tanzanians who took the trouble to meet with members of the Commission," he said.

A participant from Senegal, Mr Ibrahim Kane, said the country should avoid pointing out union and non-union matters in the constitution. He argued that the two union entities were not recognized separately at the international level.

"This type of separation creates division of resources and results in discrimination," he said. Another participant, Ms Magdalena Rwebangira, said that as people pushed for separate negotiations on resources, the nation gradually lost an opportunity to strengthen the union.

During a panel discussions a presenter, Dr Rugemeleza Nshala of the Lawyers Environmental Action -Tanzania, argued that the people's right to own land should be entrenched in the new constitution. "Tanzanians are currently occupying land at the mercy of those in authority as it can be taken away by the will of those in power," he said.

He criticized state patronage on land ownership, terming it a colonial legacy. "Under colonialism Africans had no understanding of the value of land, encouraging them to let the bureaucracy think for them," he said. OSIEA is supporting institutions and civil societies in the process to achieve a new constitution by fully involving the people.

It also urged the meeting to critically look at specific areas in the draft constitution and compare them with neighbours Kenya, Uganda and Southern Sudan, and as far as Senegal. The meeting drew participants from local and international institutions, academicians, civil society organizations, civil servants, human rights organizations and the media.

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