Katiba team unveils first draft today

The Constitutional Review Commission today unveils the first draft of the new constitution.

Expectations among Tanzanians are high and live broadcasts of the event at the Karimjee grounds are expected to be followed by millions of people.

Tanzanians raised several issues to be changed or instituted by the new mother law since the commission started to collect views last July.

The most common view, according to a survey by The Citizen, was the ushering in a new era in which emphasis will be put on the protection of personal and civil liberties, human rights, right to information and association and religious freedom.

It will also be an era where political maturity and democracy are nurtured and where private enterprise and rights to ownership of property are promoted and protected.

The people also said they expected the new mother law to help steer Tanzania steadily in the ongoing transition to political pluralism, from a centrally planned economy to a private sector-led economy and into economic independence that will be a result of useful, beneficial and prudent exploitation of the abundant natural resources.

“We want the new constitution to spell out clearly that Tanzania is a capitalist state and it is following the liberal economy policies,” the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) executive director, Mr Godfrey Simbeye, emphasised in January during a private sector stakeholders’ meeting that aimed at collecting views on the envisaged constitution.

The current constitution states that Tanzania is a socialist country that follows Ujamaa policies. This, to some stakeholders is contradiction, because the actual economic policies are more capitalist than socialist.

But analyst say that confusion on which economic policies the country is currently pursuing shows the country is still in a transition economically, testing the waters of capitalism, while still nurturing sentiments of socialism.

The main opposition party, Chadema said in a posting on its official blog at the weekend that it has received credible reports from its sources that the clause “Tanzania is a socialist country that follows Ujamaa and Self-reliance policies” has been changed to “Tanzania is a democratic and self-reliant country.”

The Union

People will be very much interested to learn on what the draft constitution to be released today says about the structure of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.

Political leaders in Zanzibar have made repeated calls for more political and economic autonomy.

Speaking at the Kibanda Maiti in Zanzibar on Saturday the First Vice President of the Government of National Unity in Seif Shariff Hamad said the draft constitution should reflect the demands of Zanzibaris for more autonomy.

“More than 66 per cent of Zanzibaris said during the meetings to collect views on the new constitution that they want fully autonomy of Isles. We want that to be reflected in the draft constitution,” Mr Hamad told a public rally.

Zanzibar should be allowed to form its own central bank, issue its own currency, and form its own police force and immigration department. “But the issue of citizenship should not be a union issue,” Mr Hamad noted.

There were views from both sides of the union that the new constitution should provide for a federal government. Others said the union should be “contract-based” whereby two sovereign countries agree to unite in a mutual basis.

Chadema’s blog posting further claims that the draft constitution has suggested the creation of three governments.

Powers of the President

The current constitution provides for an “imperial president” stakeholders said when airing their views on the new constitution.

People and representatives of the various institutions said they want powers of the presidency to be “distributed” to other institutions like the Parliament.

They also said the new constitution should allow for the President to be prosecuted when he commits a crime or violets the constitution other laws of the land. But Chief Secretary Ombeni Sefue said reducing the powers of the President for a young country like Tanzania is dangerous.

“I think for a country as young as Tanzania, we should not put much emphasis in reducing powers of the president. We need a powerful president so that he or she can use those powers to unify the country,” Mr Sefue led a team of permanent secretaries and other government executives to air their views on the new constitution.

The chief secretary observed that once elected to lead the people, a president becomes an institution that is responsible to make the country move forward. A country cannot, therefore, develop without a strong and powerful institution (the presidency).
Source: The Citizen, reported from Dar es Salaam
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