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Think Tank Proposes Four-step Process that Would Deliver New Constitution Before 2025

The Tanzania Constitutional Forum believes that if the process it recommends is adopted the New Constitution will be available sooner with very minimal use of resources.

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Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania Constitutional Forum, a Dar es Salaam-based think tank on constitutional issues on Wednesday proposed a four-step process that it thinks if worked on would deliver the much needed New Constitution before the general election of 2025.

The forum, known in Kiswahili as Jukwaa la Katiba, made the proposal to the presidential task force formed to coordinate stakeholders’ opinions on multiparty democracy.

According to a timetable seen by The Chanzo, the task force is today scheduled to hear opinions from the Tanzania Constitutional Forum, the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) and the Tanzania students’ Networking Programme (TSNP).

In its submission to the task force seen by The Chanzo, the Tanzania Constitutional Forum thinks that the starting point in the constitutional making process should start with the amendment of the Constitutional Review Act and the Referendum Act so that they can be aligned with the current context.

“It is our suggestion that the Constitutional Review Act will provide us with important answers [on how] to deal with issues that blocked the process in the past, like how to deal with understandings that may arise during the process,” Bob Wangwe, the Tanzania Constitutional Forum executive director, said in a statement.

Another step would be reconciling what is contained in the second draft of the constitution with what is contained in the proposed draft constitution in an attempt of unifying people with opposing viewpoints about the two documents.

While some, especially those in the political opposition and human rights movement, want the second draft constitution, others, mainly those belonging to the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), support the proposed draft constitution.

Many analysts think that the lack of consensus between opposing parties over these two documents is chiefly responsible for the constitution-writing process to stall.

“We believe that both documents contain many positive issues but also some shortcomings,” Mr Wangwe said in the statement. “For the sake of reconciliation, it is important that we write a constitution that takes into account opinions of each of these opposing parties.”

The organisation recommends the formation of a committee of experts who are competent and experienced on issues of constitution-making that will be responsible for reconciling the second draft constitution and the proposed draft constitution.

The third step would be for the now amended Constitutional Review Act to provide this committee of experts with thirty days to seek public opinions about the two draft constitutions before processing those opinions and coming up with the final proposed draft constitution that will be taken to referendum.

“We propose that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) undergoes significant structural reforms that would enable it to supervise the referendum in a competent and just manner,” says Wangwe, as the fourth step of the process.

“The reforms will not only enable the referendum to take place smoothly,” he adds. “They will also make people have faith in the entire process, something which will contribute to making the constitution produced has a political legitimacy.”

Mr Wangwe said the constitution-writing process should start now, pointing out that through the use of the committee of experts the New Constitution will be available sooner, with very minimal use of taxpayers’ money.

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