Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

26 April 2014

Tanzania: Heavy Cloud Hangs On the Constituent Assembly

THE Constituent Assembly (CA) resumed this week after Easter Holidays and will go on sabbatical leave until August after the Budget session.

Just before the adjournment for Easter holidays, the unexpected happened following tirade of polemics emerging from political differences embedded in the three and two tier-governments disagreement.

The two-tier government, seemingly the government choice spearheaded by CCM ruling party against Ukawa's three tiergovernment proposed structure by the Presidential Commission chaired by Judge Warioba appears to have caused a quagmire to the whole process of writing this constitution.

The walking away from the ongoing CA debates by the Ukawa together with those twenty-five members of the 201 group has further complicated the whole process of getting our much needed constitution.

Efforts should be made to convince the Ukawa group to come back to deliberate on this new constitution because even if the remaining members get the necessary two thirds majorities in voting, the consensus will not be there which is the essence of the required reconciliation.

The mistrust of political players on the whole process of writing the constitution started from day one when the appointment of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) was announced.

The two diametrical sides went to the CA with their personal party agendas therefore each side was suspicious and hyper sensitive to every move. The spirit of give and take was a mere hypothesis. The CRC recommendations appeared to have sparked the fire and the tension between the beleaguering parties became so alarming.

The tension has been created by this disagreement on two or three tier-governments leading to different interpretations countrywide. What followed next was hate speeches coming from each corner of the country and from the very CA.

More worrying is the stand taken by churches during the Easter sermons. The buildup of the two opposing sides is gaining ground; if it is left unchecked, surely something serious might eat this nation. The pastoral letter from thirty- two Roman Catholic Bishops was theologically couched in a philosophical approach but if you read it between the lines, it calls for the CA to abide by the draft of the Warioba Commission.

The Anglican Bishop, Valentino Mokiwa, was very straight forward in putting his views in that sermon. He said downplaying the views expressed in the Warioba Commission amounts to downplaying people's views whose inputs are contained in the Warioba's Commission.

In seemingly parallel views from his colleagues, the Iringa KKK Bishop, Dr Owdewnburg Mdegela, condemned the Ukawa and urged them to return to the CA to continue with discussions. Also the students of Higher Institutions of Learning in Dar es Salaam came with a stinging statement condemning the Ukawa.

Ukawa is determined to go throughout the country to send the message to the people on the fact that people's views have been thrown out at the expense of the CCM Manifesto which is for two tier-governments. That being the case then the country is dangerously divided into two obvious camps.

Covertly the divisions are more serious than the normal eye can detect and behind the scene the seeds of discord seem to germinate. Are we sure that those who are for three tier governments have the same aspirations for both Mainland and Zanzibar?

And what about those who are of two-tier government? Do they have a common goal? We might be dancing the wrong tunes and end up playing in the hands of the devil? I could feel my spine chilling after hearing a senior politician, a minister standing in the pulpit saying what he said and he could not heal the wounds when he was given another opportunity to do so in the CA.

That sounded like opening the Pandora's box, as already the other side, the Muslim clerics are demanding Lukuvi's head to roll. As of now, the two sides have each strong support and the Ukawa seems to have an edge in support from the religious leaders.

However, mine is not a cry in the wilderness but I am really concerned on the plight of my country which is full of milk and honey. Something should be done to salvage the situation. What should be done now to avoid the worse to happen? In the first place our people, poor peasants are in the dark when it comes to one, two, three or even four government pattern.

This is a political ploy applied by politicians claiming to represent their people's views. Where did they get that mandate which has legally been entrusted to the CRC? There were some genuine pleas from CA members calling those deserting members from CA to come back.

With humility they requested them to come back for reconciliation that could bring back harmony and proceed with the writing of the new constitution involving each one of them. If that fails then the best solution could be the calling off of the CA and organise an earlier referendum that would pose three questions, one, two or three tier governments.

This exercise does not need much preparation as people are already aware on what is going on. Then this should be followed by the CA made up of a few people with good track record on constitutional issues preferably senior citizens like Judge Mark Bomani, Ambassador Ami Mpungwe and a few politicians from all registered political parties.

I know the two, Judge Bomani and Ambassador Mpungwe have been involved in the drafting of complicated constitutions like those of Namibia and South Africa where the question of reconciliation was of paramount importance.

The final decision on the constitution should come from the people in another referendum if need be or else the first referendum could serve the purpose.

I do join my fellow senior citizens, the peasants that we need a performing government that is accountable to its people, and corrupt free that can bring food on the table regardless of being from one-two-three or four governments.

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