BECAUSE of unavoidable limitations usually associated with editorial space, my article of last Thursday in this column, had to be limited to the joyful appreciation of the Court of Appeal’s ruling, which nullified those sections of the Law of Marriage Act, 1971; That the Law Reform Commission of Tanzania had, as far back as 1994, recommended that they should be deleted from the said Act; but, unfortunately, the Government had refused to act on that recommendation, which had therefore remained in the Government’s ‘dustbin’ for some twenty-four long years.
Those who read last week’s article, will remember that the Court of Appeal’s ruling was such welcome news to me , that it led me, almost as a reflex action, to sing ‘ALLELUIA’. This is because I had been a member of that Commission for all those twenty odd years, and had been closely involved in the making of those recommendations.
Thus, today’s article is designed to complete last week’s presentation. For, it would be totally unfair to the Government on my part, if I do not also acknowledge that the Government has, in other cases, taken appropriate action on some of the Commission’s recommendations.
For example, the Nyalali Commission, (which recommended the re-introduction of multiparty politics in our country) had also identified a total number of forty laws which it described as “oppressive laws”, and recommended that they be repealed, or amended, as may be appropriate.
Only twenty-eight of those laws were the responsibility of the Union Government, the remaining twelve were Zanzibar laws, whose amendment, or repeal, was the responsibility of the Zanzibar Government.
The Attorney-General referred the twenty eight Union laws to the Law Reform Commission, for detailed examination, and subsequent recommendation, regarding what action should be taken on each of those laws, in order to remove their oppressive nature.
The Commission dutifully did what was required of it, and presented its findings to the Minister. As a result of the Commission’s recommendations, the Government presented to Parliament, a Bill titled The written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill, which repealed “The Collective Punishment Ordinance”; and made extensive amendments to some other laws, including “The Expulsion of Undesirable Persons Ordinance” and “The National Security Act”.
That, indeed, must be appreciated. But disappointments remain with regard to many other recommendations, for failure on the part of the Government to take appropriate action. For example, there is our “Report on the Introduction of dual Citizenship in Tanzania”; which was submitted in 2006.
In that Report, we had recommended the introduction of ‘dual citizenship’ for that category of “Tanzanians by birth”, who live and work in other countries, and have opted to become citizens of their current countries of residence; but do not want to lose the citizenship of their home country, Tanzania.
No action has ever been taken on this recommendation, most probably, for some cogent political or security reason. However subsequently, I noted with appreciation, that this matter had been taken up by the framers of the proposed new Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, in 2014.
Although the proposed new Constitution does NOT grant ‘ dual citizenship’; but it has created some “special status” for such Tanzanians, which keeps them legally attached to their home country. But there is also the absolutely innocuous recommendation, which is contained in our “Report on the Introduction of currency points in Tanzania”, that we submitted to the Government in 2006.
It is, presumably, common knowledge that a rather large number of our laws do impose fines as punishment for convicted offenders, and that these fines are always expressed in terms of fixed amounts of Tanzania shillings.
Now then, when the value of the shilling depreciates, (as it inevitably does from time to time), the value of the relevant fine similarly deteriorates, rendering it almost meaningless for the purposes of deterring offenders, or even as an effective punishment.
Thus, being mindful of this obvious problem, the Law Reform Commission recommended the introduction of what are known as “currency points”, in the country’s legal regime, with the aim of solving this peculiar problem of the constant decline of the value of the shilling.
Our recommendation was that this be done through the enactment of new legislation, which would empower the Courts to impose the relevant fines in terms of “currency points”, instead of shillings. The number of such currency points to be imposed as fine, would differ from time to time, depending on the value of the shilling at the material time.
And in order for this system to operate smoothly, the proposed new law would empower the Minister for the time being responsible for Justice, after due consultation with the Minister for Finance, and by Order published in the official Gazette, to set the value of such “currency points” for a specified period, say one or two years, as may appear to them to be the likely time period for the inevitable depreciation of the shilling to have occurred.
This procedure of altering the value of the “currency points” simply through the publication of a Government Notice (GN) in the official Gazette, has the advantage of avoiding that cumbersome process of having to go to all the way to Parliament, just in order to amend the outdated provision in the relevant statute.
Our Commission even submitted, as part of that Report, a draft Bill to that effect, in order to lessen the burden of the Parliamentary draftsman. But, alas, all these efforts came to naught; as no action whatsoever, has been taken in respect thereof.
Thus, in my speech on that occasion, I referred to a statement which is reported to have been made, in rather similar circumstances, by the then Chief Justice of Hong Kong, in his capacity as a member of the Law Reform Commission of Hong Kong, who said the following, on 21st September, 1983; in a speech delivered at a meeting of representatives of the Commonwealth Law Reform Agencies who were meeting in Hong Kong:- “No Law Reform Agency should ever rely on the support of the Government, which is unlikely to have established such Agency because it believes in its work.
Many politicians regard the law as an obstructive irrelevance when they are in office. And the Law reformers who have taken their lives (the most recent UNESCO figure is 16 percent); have done so simply because they have lost faith, and no longer believe, that their work will ever survive the interminable journey from their published Reports, to legislative enactments in response to them”.
I therefore made an inference that most of our Reports must have, similarly, been unable to survive that horrible “interminable journey” .
But I quickly cautioned my colleagues of the Law Reform Commission of Tanzania, that none should ever contemplate taking his life, merely because of the frustration arising out of this interminable journey! That now satisfactorily completes my presentation on the Law Reform of Tanzania’s recommendations; and thus enables me to move on to a different topic.
Commemorating the 20th anniversary of Mwalimu Nyerere’s death.
Thursday of last week, was the last day of October, 2019; this is the month during which, since Mwalimu Nyerere’s death in 1999; our nation has been commemorating his death. But this year, being the 20th anniversary of that sad event; I decided to commemorate it in a very special way, by celebrating Holly Mass at my residence in Ukerewe.
This Holy Mass was specifically intended to be the closing ceremony for this year’s pilgrimage to Butiama. I must explain what this “pilgrimage to Butiama’ actually means.
In my own personal way of honouring the departed Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, who was my class teacher at Pugu Secondary School, and subsequently my respected mentor; I have been, continuously for the last ten years, organising ‘ special ‘pilgrimage trips’ to Butiama, for select groups of catholic faithful of my home District of Ukerewe who wish to go to offer their prayers for the late Mwalimu Nyerere, right beside his grave in Buti ama.
This year’s group consisted of 110 pilgrims, from two different Catholic Parishes of ITIRA and KAGUNGULI in Ukerewe District, who were accompanied by their respective Parish priests. They were ferried, as in all previous years, from Ukerewe to Butiama and back, by hired luxury Buses.
In all other years, the pilgrimage event has always ended there; but not this year, which was the 20th anniversary of Mwalimu Nyerere’s death; Which I gave special treatment by arranging an extra event, namely the closing ceremony for that pilgrimage, which was in the form of the Holy Mass that was celebrated at my family residence; and attended by all the pilgrims, plus a large gathering of our neighbouring faithful.
Placing emphasis on Mwalimu Nyerere’s canonization.
The priest who delivered the sermon , quite rightly chose to dwell on Mwalimu Nyerere’s on-going canonization process, by calling upon the assembled congregation “to become active participants in that process, in order to ensure its eventual success”.
He also reminded the congregation, of the fact that the following day, the 1st day of November; is the day that is commemorated annually by the Christian faithful throughout the world, as “All Saints Day”.
He thus urged everyone present, to make use of that special day, in addition to their other personal intentions, to also pray for the early success of Mwalimu Nyerere’s canonization process, that will enable him to join that holy army of God’s saints, who are being remembered annually on that “All Saints Day”.
For the benefit of our readers who may be unaware of this exclusively Christian tradition, I should explain that the “canonization process” is that process which is normally undertaken by the Catholic Church worldwide, for any of its departed faithful to be officially recognized as a saint; that is to say, a dead person whom the Christian Church recognizes as being holy, because of the way he lived and died.
This process is, of necessity, a very long one, which normally has, in the majority of cases, taken up to several centuries to produce the desired results. But it has also, in a few cases, taken a much shorter period of only a few years.
It all depends on the fulfillment of certain specified mandatory conditions, in respect of the relevant candidate for the sainthood. So far, there are only a handful Africa saints (Africa south of the Sahara).
These include the celebrated Martyrs of Uganda, (who were burnt to death on the orders of the Kabaka, or King, of Buganda; only for the ‘crime’ they had committed of obstinately refusing to obey his order, requiring them to renounce their Christianity; and the Sudanese Josephine Bakita , whose canonization I had the rare privilege of attending, when it was held at the Vatican, the headquarters of the Catholic Church, in Rome.
Hence, I also took the opportunity provided by the Holy Mass referred to above, to add my own plea to the assembled congregation, urging them to become active supporters of, and participants in, the canonization process of the late Mwalimu Nyerere, the father of our nation. May the Lord God, grant our prayer, Amen.