New Constitution meant to galvanise nation

New Constitution meant to galvanise nation


The opposition overwhelmingly supported a government bill that some provisions of which were fiercely contested by MPs of the ruling CCM. In a strange quirk of events, it momentarily appeared like the opposition was the ruling party and the ruling party the opposition!

One particular bone of contention from the amended bill that was tabled in Parliament last Thursday was on the clause that dropped District Commissioners from running the road shows for collecting the people’s views on the new constitution. The opposition held that DCs, although employees of the central government, their position was also clearly explained in the CCM constitution as political cadres of the ruling party, who could therefore not be expected to be neutral in a political process such as collecting the people’s views on constitution writing.

They were replaced by District Executive Directors (DEDs), who head local district councils. Although employees of the central government too, DEDs have at least been used as Returning Officers in elections and could therefore be said not to be strangers to a culture of political neutrality.

Besides, DEDs are in a way answerable to councillors and at least the main opposition, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) controls a number of district councils, where CCM is technically the opposition party. There is a roadmap for the writing of the new constitution.

It must be in place when Tanzania marks the 50th anniversary of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar on April 26, 2014 and be used in the October 2015 general election, which will also mark the end of the second and constitutionally final term of the incumbent President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.

So naturally the stakes are high. The Constitution Review Bill, once passed into law provides for the establishment by the President of a 32-member Commission made up of 16 members from Tanzania Mainland and 16 from Tanzania Zanzibar to collect the people’s views on the kind of constitution they want.

There will also be appointed a Constituent Assembly to draft the new constitution and a national referendum that will finally endorse or reject the constitution. All that has to happen within the next two years, which is a tall order for any country. The new constitution is intended to give Tanzanians the kind of government and system that they want their country to be governed by.

It is therefore a permanent document that should be as relevant and valid as it is humanely possible for use by generations and generations of Tanzanians. It is an historic moment therefore for all those involved in its writing including you and I and, a crowning moment for President Kikwete as the good Shepherd steered the process to come up with the highly venerated document.

At stake is a document for all Tanzanians that will no doubt take into consideration all the current complaints about the structure of the union, the powers of the president and many others issues that would take on board the views of every citizen of the partnership called the United Republic of Tanzania.

It is a heavy task and responsibility that history has nonetheless bestowed on the current generation to perform. The nation should have a constitution that the people shall still find relevant and feel proud to have when the country celebrates 100 years of independence in 2061 and well beyond that.

The new constitution therefore, is not about religious differences or tribes or the different regions of the country. It is a new constitution for the people of Tanzania that cuts across ideological differences. We of the present generation are lucky in that we lived through the Cold War era, a period of intense rivalry between East and West during which nations were required to show on which side they leaned.

We are now in a globalised world but with an emerging scramble for global dominance by the super powers, along with the new actors such as China, India and Brazil and, to some extent, South Africa. Britain’s real intentions in the new ‘Scramble for Africa’ are hard to decipher but the Commonwealth, which the Queen still leads as a ceremonial head is far from common.

In my opinion, the Commonwealth could be the first grouping of nations to disintegrate as nations realign themselves anew in a changing world. France has always maintained a creepy hold on its former colonies with a burning dream to rule the world. The Spring Revolution in North Africa and its partnership with Germany to lead Europe are just two examples of nits broader scheme of things in the days ahead.

Although a major military and economic power, the influence of the United States of America in global affairs and hegemony is expected to suffer serious challenge from China, the devouring dragon from the East. In Africa, the ever growing influence of China from the Cape to Cairo is just too obvious.

China has plans to unveil a new foreign policy that stresses partnership with Africa as the “natural” ally for the exploitation of the continent’s vast natural resources. For a long time to come, Africa will be the only continent unable to export its economic and military influence to other parts of the world, save for its cultural dominance in music.

The Brazilian national Anthem is composed of nothing but African drum beats of nocturnal dancing. Otherwise, it has the gargantuan task of shaking off poverty in times corresponding to what Mwalimu Julius Nyerere once said: “Africa has no uncle.”
Therefore, the only way out for Africa is to put its act together and its house in order so that with new genuinely home grown levels of good governance, the continent can start on the long and arduous journey to match the global heights of development as an equal player in world civilisation.

That journey starts with a good constitution that clearly states the rights, duties, obligations and expectations of every citizen. Tanzanians should not see the new constitution as a tussle between their political ideologies or religious differences. All those issues matter less and mean little when nations cannot produce enough to be ranked among the major consumers of global resources. A good constitution is the beginning of disciplined approach to life without which no nation can be great.

Many will come also to offer civic education to the people but they should remember the new constitution is not about 21st century Tanzania but for many centuries more to come. I believe Japan and Germany will one day be members of the United Nations Security Council because global dynamics will liberate the world from the shackles of World War ll to confront new dynamics, including the possibility of contact with alien civilisation. Our politicians shall have failed the people if they fail to be dreamers and visionaries. If it comes to that point, they should clearly stay aside.



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