Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

21 September 2013

Tanzania: Let the New Constitution Process Flow Uninterrupted

I THINK I am now beginning to understand the Kiswahili saying: "Mjenga Nchi ni Mwananchi na Mvunja Nchi ni Mwananchi," which in essence means it is the citizen who makes (read develop and protect or defend) his or her country and it is the same citizen who can destroy or break it up.

I am referring to the current national debate on putting together a new Constitution, which, instead of galvanising the citizens into a focused nation for a comprehensive constitution that would solidify the Union, it is threatening to tear the nation into smaller units to the glee of those who have been waiting for such a chance to move in smoothly.

The logic that in unity there is strength seems to have lost meaning to most of us. What surprises me is that I had thought those who were advocating for the break up of the Union, I mean those gunning for a three-tier government had a selfish agenda of creating an environment for the likelihood of acquiring some position that would guarantee personal wealth aggrandisement.

This motive, according to my understanding is therein large part and I have said this before. But what I cannot comprehend is how will the church benefit from a three-tier government? Why would the church want to break up the Union this way? I am talking about the Anglican Church in Dar es Salaam which is rallying its congregation to vote for a three government system.

I am saying this because whether we like it or not and whatever reason we give for advocating for a three government system the arrangement will certainly break up the Union. I can bet the great hearts of all those who want a three tier government (except for those are simply blowing with the wind) know that what they are crying for is break up of the Union. But in their gluttonous and selfish hearts they do not want to admit it.

Yes, it has come to this? In perspective, the cry for a new constitution began a long time ago, as it were, especially after the reintroduction of multiparty democracy in the country.

To be specific, it was some of the leaders of the opposition parties who thought, wrongly or rightly (I'm not sure they did any research, there is no proof of that anyway), that thy were losing in the general elections because the Constitution favoured Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) but gave little chance for them to assume the reigns of the country, who strongly advocated for a new constitution.

At one point, they almost boycotted the general elections demanding the institution of a new constitution first before taking part in the elections. Some of them even rubbished the argument that the process of putting in place a new constitution needed time.

You would remember that one of them, Willbrod Slaa, if I may be allowed to name names, told Tanzanians during his campaign rallies that he could come up with a new constitution in less than one hundred days. The situation on the ground tells us that he could not have been serious at all.

Is it not ironic that the same people, who demanded a new constitution now, should be seen to be working towards delaying the process to achieving that cherished goal of a new basic law of the land by bringing forth unnecessary impediments?

The case in point is the apparent determination by groups of people to derail this noble process with flimsy reasons as demonstrated in the just ended Parliamentary unprecedented shame when the so called honourable MPs decided to throw civilisation to the wind to engage in fist fighting like uncultured street hooligans simply because they differed in opinion. That was the highest order of an undemocratic indiscipline in the august House.

The National Assembly met in Dodoma to discuss an amendment to the constitution passed by the same National Assembly that would guide the process to the establishment of the New Constitution. What happened in that august House does not need repeating. Only that it was shockingly shameful.

Now, they want President Jakaya Kikwete to intervene in the constitution-making process by not signing the passed Bill. The reason they give is that people from Zanzibar were not consulted to give their views on the amendment bill and that was why the Opposition Members of Parliament protested against the tabling of the Constitutional Review (Amendment) Bill, 2013.

Again, I go along with those who are surprised with Chadema's sudden love affair with CUF or rather, with the people of Zanzibar at that. I may fathom one or two reasons; one is that Chadema need a partner in their attempt at derailing the process considering that a good number of people in the isles would want the Union to break up yesterday for their own selfish reason.

Two, the party (Chadema) want to have a foothold in Zanzibar, hence the apparent love for the Zanzibaris. To me, it seems the opposition, particularly Chadema, are not happy with the good pace of the process towards attaining a Constitution before the next general elections come 2015.

For one thing they will have to look somewhere else reasons of their loss because the new Constitution they wanted would be in place. So now they are looking for the tiniest loophole to delay the new Constitution.

As for the three-tier government structure which, I will give myself the liberty to repeat many times over, will mean killing the Union, let those in favour remember Mwalimu's warning against the break up of the union. Let us be warned.

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