Sunday, August 10, 2014

CA member calls for its adjournment to save the minority Tanzanians

As the Constituent Assembly (CA) resumed its business on Tuesday last week, uncertainty has reigned among some members currently attending the session that unfair decisions might be passed in the absence of members forming the Coalition of defenders for People’s Constitution (Ukawa). Ukawa who walked out of the CA debating chamber in mid April this year during the first phase session protested  against what they described as a deliberate move by CCM members to hijack the debate in favour of their party, resolved not to return back to continue with the second phase discussions. The Secretary General of Tanzania Teachers’ Association (TTA) Ezekiah Oluoch who is a member of the CA from the group of the appointed 201 people said on Tuesday that, the absence of Ukawa will deny the minority population of Tanzanians their rights of contribution to the ongoing constitution writing process. In view of this, Oluoch has suggested the postponement of the CA which he said should be resumed after the general elections in 2016 so as to pave more time for the reconciliations to resolve the existing disparities between Ukawa and CCM party. He said although the writing process would continue with the majority members of the ruling party in the CA, it wouldn’t be unfair to go on with the discussions leaving behind voices of the few whose representations were dependent on Ukawa’s members. He said n an exclusive interview that, since the ruling party has the majority of over 80 percent of all members in the CA, he fears that most of them would pass the provisions of the draft that would favour their interest to the expense of the nation. Ukawa is made up of major opposition political parties, namely NCCR-Mageuzi, Chadema and Civic United Front (CUF) and some members from the group of the 201 delegates who were appointed by the President. They declared not to attend the CA session after failure to reach a consensus that aimed to resolve their differences surrounding the resumption of the Constituent Assembly with the CCM party two weeks ago. Briefing newsmen recently in Dar es Salaam, Ukawa chairman Freeman Mbowe said that from the beginning of negotiations they were aiming to change operations of the CA, to ensure that it is performing its duty according to stipulated rules and regulations. “One of its central tasks is to approve the constitutional draft as it was proposed by majority views on the basis of the draft by the Constitutional Review Commission and not otherwise, but CCM was trying to make the constitutional draft as a party constitution”, he said. “One amongst the reasons that forced us to get out of the Constituent Assembly is the taking up officially by CCM of views which are opposed to the majority views as presented by the commission,” he further stated. Since the promulgation of the Constitutional Review Commission’s three tier government system, CCM has tended to force views which propose retaining the two tier government system without seeking the views of the people, thus destroying the basis of the constitutional draft, he said.
Ezekiah Oluoch being interviewed by the media on his stand about the ongoing constitutional writing process in Dodoma

According to Mbowe, one day before the fourth meeting between CCM and Ukawa officials, President Kikwete repeated what he did during the opening of the CA, whereby he said that CA has no mandate of changing the constitutional draft, as its duty is to discuss and approve the constitutional draft. He said that what President Kikwete said in his speech continued misleading the public on the use of standing order no. 33(8) i of the Constitution Assembly concerning its powers, and avoiding to talk about changes made on 25th April 2014 after Ukawa members walked out of CA.  “Such changes introduced new regulation number 32 (6) which allows CA to propose a new chapter in the constitutional draft,” Mbowe asserted.  “The changes seek to establish a new chapter from CCM in the draft which proposes a two tier government system and altering other chapters, something which is contrary to the majority view on the proposed federal constitution of the country,” he emphasized.
An overview on the issue has it that, many people who spoke during various televised platform debate on the new constitution were of the view that there was no need for the Constituent Assembly (CA) to resume its meeting without the absence of Ukawa, with the majority insisting them to go back.  In a recent debate platform organized by the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) speakers condemned the way the authorities spoilt the Katiba-making process and failure of taking legal path to resolve the standoff.  During the debate, a Kenyan based lecturer at the Nairobi University Professor Patrick Lumumba, pleaded with Ukawa, asking them to return to CA to present their ideas properly. According to him, the problem is that politicians are eager to write the new constitution that favours their interests. He says it was clear that most Tanzanians needed the new constitution that would address challenges they face based on the existing one. So politicians have to forget the interests of their parties and work according to the citizens’ needs that the constitution draft well presented.

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