22 March 2014

Tanzania: Kikwete Opposes MPs' Three-Term Limit

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

Dodoma — PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has expressed opposition to term limits for Members of Parliament, as proposed in the second draft constitution compiled by Judge (Rtd) Joseph Warioba-led Constitutional Review Commission (CRC).

The draft constitution proposes that there should be a term limit for MPs, it provides that an MP serves for only three terms, each of five years.

"It is of my opinion that term limits should only be for presidents but not MPs. Even in countries such as United States and Philippines, term limits are only for members of the senate not National Assembly," Mr Kikwete said in his address to the Constituent Assembly (CA).

The Head of State went on to add that the long one serves as a Member of Parliament the more experience he/she gains, describing such positions as "breeding ground for national leaders."

In a related development, Mr Kikwete also said it is unfair to recall an MP who has failed to perform his/her duties for six months due to illness or detention in remand prison.

"It will be unfair to recall an MP who has been sick for six months, suppose that MP was involved in an accident while serving his people and he/she is admitted at hospital for that period.

"Nonetheless, look at that matter critically and weigh its repercussions, if you satisfy yourselves that MPs should be recalled for being ill or detained before even being convicted, it is upon you to decide," Mr Kikwete told members of the CA.

Regarding a proposal by the second draft constitution that cabinet ministers should not be drawn from amongst members of Parliament as it is the case now, the president believes that a strong parliament is that which can take ministers to task.

"I have no strong feeling about this but I think it is better MPs to continue to grill ministers as it has been for years," Mr Kikwete said.

He threw the ball to the members, stating that it is their responsibility to critically assess all issues contained in the draft document and come up with a draft constitution which will be decided by Tanzanians through a referendum.

He also pointed to the fact that for the first time in Tanzania's history, the population will be engaged in the process to rewrite the constitution as opposed to the past when such work was done by a selected team of officials.

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