23 March 2014

Tanzania: CA Members Commend President's Inaugural Speech

Photo: Lauren Everitt/AllAfrica
Tanzanian President lauded for his speech on the draft constitution (file photo).

Dodoma — THE Constituent Assembly (CA) launched here on Friday by President Jakaya Kikwete should now get into serious House business and avoid unnecessary divergences.

The House should also understand that the President's Speech contained vital ingredients towards strengthening the current union structure.

Speaking on Saturday, Singida Regional CCM Chairman, Mr Mgana Msindai said the President's Speech had in one way or another sketched a roadmap that offers solutions to union problems.

According to Mr Msindai, CCM had a longer experience in politics than any other party or institution and the same party understands in depth the union obstacles.

"President Kikwete cited some of the problems facing the union and he mentioned some of the measures already taken to strengthen the union, including the decision to allow Zanzibar join some of the regional and international organisations, including Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), he said.

His views were backed by a CA member, Mr Evod Mmanda, who remained optimistic that as the members start working tomorrow, some of the pressing issues would be addressed and eventually get solutions.

Mr Mmanda insisted that CA members are writing the country's Constitution that shall carry interests of all Tanzanians, irrespective of their political party affiliations.

Another CA member, Dr Zainab Gama, said she was impressed by the President's Speech which touched areas that need to be addressed.

She called upon other CA members to behave while making contributions in the House, as they were asked by President Kikwete before winding up his speech.

A random survey made within Dodoma municipality has shown that President Kikwete's speech intended to preserve the union that fosters relations between mainland and Isles dwellers.

"The three-tier government needs ample preparation, if we want to adopt it. Our peace won't remain in safe hands," said Joseph Antony, a business man based in Dodoma.

Meanwhile, women members in the special CA are to form a caucus aimed at presenting their opinions in all the twelve committees that shall be discussing the Draft Constitution.

The decision was reached here yesterday, after holding a meeting that was well attended by CA female members from different backgrounds, irrespective of their party or ideological backgrounds.

Opening the convention that was discussing 'Women and Constitution' CA member Mrs Anna Abdallah said women should speak with one voice while discussing the draft either in the Assembly or in appointed committees.

"As women, we should set agenda in this meeting so that our views on how to defend our rights are reflected in the new constitution that may probably be obtained this year," she said.

According to Mrs Abdallah who is the Tanzania Women Parliamentary Group (TWPG) Chairperson, a mini-committee to oversee women issues features during the CA meeting.

"This shall help us present our contributions in the CA, which advocate gender equality and women rights in the new constitution.

We also intend to propose children's rights and their proper age limit for marriage to be included in the new constitution," she elaborated.

Another issue that the CA women member group addressed was safe reproductive health that, if included in the new Katiba shall reduce mortality deaths which currently stand at 454 per every 100,000 women who deliver every year.

Mrs Abdallah told her fellow women that during all the CA sessions, their agenda should be 'Chama Chetu ni Wanawake' (loosely translated as 'Our party is women').

She advocated for women to defend their rights and join political parties of their choices, insisting that without women the country shall be in chaos.

Addressing the meeting, Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) Executive Director, Ms Valery Msoka, who convened the meeting in conjunction with United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), said that time had come for the Constitution to write off some traditions, customs and values which disgrace women.

She said that the new Constitution should create good environment that enable girls, especially from poor families to obtain free education without obstacles. "The Constitution that we are currently writing should say 'no' to the killings of old women in the Lake Zone region.

The basic law of the land should condemn child marriages and should guarantee better health services to pregnant mothers when they go for delivery," she insisted.

According to Ms Msoka, writing new constitution was an opportunity that women should seize to call for better health care and other rights. "We met today as women to discuss issues based on our interests as women and not as politicians.

We are optimistic that our inputs shall eventually benefit women in this country, regardless of our political ideologies," said CA member Mrs Jenista Mhagama.

As CA women member were discussing their fate in the new Katiba, data presented during the meeting by Dr Esther Mwaikambo revealed that Tanzania has made considerable progress in reducing child mortality.

According to her, Underfive mortality rates have continued to drop from 112 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 to 81 in 2010 when the last research was made.

She told the CA members that deaths of infants under one year have also decreased from 68 to 51 per 1,000 live births over the same period.

Dr Mwaikambo added that the continuing decline can be attributed to government commitments to increase use of key health interventions, such as sustained high coverage of routine under-five immunisation, Vitamin A supplementation, the use of insecticide treated bed nets and better drugs to treat malaria.

According to her, about 390 children under five die every day of mainly preventable and treatable conditions despite such improvements.

The meeting was attended by some ministers who are CA members, including Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Ms Jenista Mhagama, Deputy Minister of Community Development, Gender and Children Ms Pindi Chana and Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Ms Angela Kairuki. Rukwa RC, Eng. Stella Manyanya, her Iringa counterpart Dr Christine Ishengoma also attended.

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