What I would like to see in a new Tanzanian constitution

What I would like to see in a new Tanzanian constitution

Listening to the proclamations of some self-proclaimed ‘katiba’ MCs you may get the impression that the 1977 constitution is so faulty it deserves a place in the record books. The current constitution has lots of nice goodies in it. Like the right to marry a beautiful Muslim or Christian woman even if the groom worships Mount Kilimanjaro and his prophet is the current MP for Vunjo. Perhaps that MP has promised to enter and win the presidential race in 2015.

That prophetic MP may also have promised to construct a new tarmac road linking Kilema Mukyashi and Kibosho seminary. You see in matters of faith, the current constitution for Tanzania mainland – why else did Zanzibaris enact their own constitution if they are true citizens of a united Tanzania – ensures citizens the freedom and right to worship any god, man or woman they choose.

The new constitution must ensure good citizens who are fasting religiously during Lent or Ramadan do not harass others who are not. The constitution must protect residents or tourists who might be relishing bacon and eggs at breakfast, noodles or chicken pilao lunch or a glass of wine or a beer on a hot day.

You see, religious practice is a personal choice that God never intended to be enforced by any political authority on planet Earth. Let that constitution outlaw religious intolerance in any form. Equality in the workplace and in official circles as it is in front of God Almighty must be guaranteed by the constitution.

However, in the house the man must continue to be the head and his wife the neck and together they make family music. It is time for men to kick women out of the kitchen. Let female partners enjoy kitchen parties if they must. However, if we men are cooking, we will charge for services.

Meals will be charged at rates comparable to MacDonald’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken. Some women earn considerably more than their partners and it is only fair they give some back to hardworking hubbies and any friendly boys in their lives. This will be Tanzania’s first constitution in the 21stcentury. It must enshrine the right of wives to go out with other gals to enjoy roast meat and bananas at a pub of their choice, dance or watch English premier league or their favourite soap without fear of harassment from old-fashioned husbands.

Men have had their time in the last 50 years. Next half century is for women to rule the airwaves and nightlife, from pubs in Dar or London to night clubs in Nairobi or hotels in the Serengeti. What is good for men must be super for women. On a serious note, I would like to see the apparent equality between mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar straightened out. We should have proportional representation.

For example, Shinyanga and Mwanza provinces should have the same number of parliamentarians if they have approximately the same population. The number of MPs from the Tanzania islands should be proportional to their population. The current union parliament must have more than 70 representatives from Zanzibar representing at most about one million people.

Tanga region with over 1.6 million gets how many MPs in Bunge? Are Tanga residents less deserving Tanzanians than Zanzibaris? This is like Hawaii state having more representatives in the USA Congress than California. Therefore new constitution must state the importance of proportional representation regardless of the political status of a region or zone.

The fact of having 15 representatives from the isles on the constitutional committee may be too bitter a pill to swallow for some mainlanders. In the new constitution ministers should not be MPs. The president should be free to select his cabinet from the civil servants, business persons or private individuals. This will allow better separation of the legislative from the executive and enable parliament to check any excesses by the executive. Will MPs take to task ministers from their own political party?

Birds of a feather always flock together. Let the new constitution dictate that Tanzania will have 25% share of mining income and let us do away with royalties. Mining ventures should be partnerships with the government. The land and minerals which are owned by Tanzania should count as partnership assets. Just because rich investors come with earth-moving equipment costing millions of dollars does not give them 95% ownership of our mineral wealth.

The peanuts mining companies give to villages as corporate social responsibility and taxes paid to the state after several years of tax holidays is paltry compared to profits mining companies reap from gold, diamond, gas or cobalt. Do I get any writing allowance for contributing my thoughts on paper?

I mean, MPs are paid sitting allowances even if they sit and contribute nothing for a month. Civil servants get fanny allowances for sitting in routine meetings even if they just keep agreeing with the chairperson without bringing new ideas. Just some thoughts for the constitutional review team to mull. Enjoy your day.

tnaleo@hotmail.com; cell 0755-246136


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