Our eighteen months’ march to New Constitution

Our eighteen months’ march to New Constitution

Everybody is excited and this excitement is becoming worrisome. I remember in 1977 when TANU and ASP flags were lowered down giving room to CCM, people, particularly the young generation was so excited. This prompted Mwalimu Nyerere to get worried as to what was in the minds of that young generation as a result of the advent of CCM!

The march towards the new constitution sends me back to those 35 years of expectations, whether that young generation has been satisfied with their treasured CCM! Probably those who were juveniles by then would tell us. However, the need of having a new constitution does not need any debate as we need our own home grown constitution.

Our original Constitution was worked out in Lancaster House in London and polished at Karimjee Hall in Dar es Salaam that ushered our independence in December 1961. With several amendments in the constitution, having a new constitution is a necessity. I am as well one of those excited people, as a patriot of this country and knowing that the idea of the new constitution was mooted from so many pressures.

My hope is that we will sail through safely in those eighteen months. From the word go, the animosity was there, hidden in mistrust, surrounded with the invested interests amongst the groups; the legislation on the review of the constitution was another headache and has to be done in peace meals just to give the process a kickstart, because we need to have the constitution within that time frame, but some other quarters are querying, what we need is a good constitution, not one done in haste.

Enters the appointment of the Warioba Team, the Constitutional Review Commission with all the names you can think of in terms of integrity and capability. The team is just too good to work together, armed with diversity of opinions only bound together with a common denominator of patriotism! I cannot imagine the Commission coming into conscience to sticky issues and how to agree to disagree on such issues.

Is it through voting or they do not have that power to decide as they are just the purveyors of information? Let us wait for their terms of reference. We should not behave as if we are a different species from mars. We are the same people and Mwalimu once told us that we should not deceive ourselves on the question of regionalism, tribalism and religion. He said those evils are very much alive and if you scratch them, they will resurface. Indeed this time they are going to be scratched!

This is a very difficult period that will test our patriotism. It is very unfortunate that one of the elders of this country, Mr Edwin Mtei is quoted to have said that the Warioba team is not balanced and that there are many Moslems than Christians! I say it is unfortunate, maybe he was misquoted, but if he did, it is a very dangerous statement.

However, Chadema, which is closely linked to Mzee Mtei, has disassociated itself with his statement, saying that those were his
personal views. All the same, the damage has already been done and unofficial response has been thrown around by Moslems with facts and data on the plight of Moslems from 1961 to date! This does not augur well with our intention of coming up with the new constitution. It was encouraging to hear from the Chairman of the Constitution Commission, Judge Warioba, that they should be left alone to do their work.

They are not prepared to be pushed around even by those who have elected them. He did not end there but went further, saying that the Commission will work as a team and not as representatives of where they came from. This should be the best way of beating regionalism, tribalism, trade unionism and religious issues. There are so many sticking issues such as the union which has so many appendages including partisan’s feelings.

The Union question cannot be avoided from being candidly discussed by Tanzanians. We have seen several times the sparks emanating from the Parliament whenever the question of the Union is being mentioned. We have seen how Prime Minister Pinda has been at pains, appeasing sometimes disorderly Parliamentarians when the question of the Union arises! We are known to be a transparent nation, why are we afraid of discussing the Union on its entirety? Progressive people of this country will not go for the disintegration of the union.

Let us give our people the opportunity of using their democratic right and then the tyranny of the majority will decide and not the tyranny of the minority to steal the show.As a safeguard for the future, on writing our constitution, there should be some entrenched articles that may not be amended. In other constitutions like that of Namibia which is billed to be one of the best;
issues related to properties, human rights and term of office for the president cannot be touched for amendment.

This was aimed to protect people’s property and avoiding tampering with human rights. My friend comrade Chikawe, the ball is in your court. I know this has been your area of profession as a former member of secretariat of Tanzanian Law Reform Commission, Minister of Good Governance and now back again at the right time and at right place as Minister of Justice.

Please show your magic wand here. With the new constitution baby in your hands, you have to show the way through. We do not need to regret later, let us be guided by our conscious imbued with our patriotism. God Bless!

jnyoka@live.com +255754342711 Senior Citizen


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