Dar es Salaam. The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) on Friday joined the chorus to demand the revival of the stalled constitution-writing process, putting forward a number of actionable recommendations for the government to implement to get the process up and going.
The Dar es Salaam-based human rights organisation said that the demands for the New Constitution are no longer partisan, citing the latest change of tack by the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) on the issue that was hitherto mainly dominated by voices from political opposition and rights activists.
Reading out his party’s National Executive Committee’s (NEC) resolutions, CCM secretary of ideology and publicity Shaka Hamdu Shaka said on June 22, 2022, that the second longest-ruling party in Africa sees the need to revive the stalled constitution-writing process “given the current context” for the “larger national interests.”
LHRC Executive Director Anna Henga told journalists here on Friday that among other reasons that led to the derailment of the constitution-writing process was the lack of the political will on the part of the government and the ruling party, with the late President John Magufuli announcing that the New Constitution was not the priority of his administration.
Ms Henga said given the fact that all key political players in Tanzania – across the political spectrum – agree on the need for the New Constitution, it is important for the government to initiate measures for the completion of the much-anticipated process.
She said the good starting point will be the enactment of a specific law that will revive the stalled constitution-writing process, saying this is because the existing law is already outdated.
“Once the Constituent Assembly is established, through the established law, it must have broad participation of people, and not just Members of Parliament,” Ms Henga added. “This will help revive people’s trust in the process by assuring them that their issues are given priority, that the priority is not the interests of politicians.”
The government will also need to send an amendment bill for the Referendum Act to the parliament so as to give it a legal mandate, Henga added. Also, the Constituent Assembly that will be formed should use the Second Draft Constitution in its discussion.
The Second Draft Constitution, also known as the Warioba Draft, named after the chairperson of the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) Joseph Warioba, took into account peoples’ views and discussions on the First Draft and views submitted through the constitutional fora, or barazas.
“This is because up to the discussion of the Second Draft Constitution there was no fighting between political parties,” said Ms Henga. “The fighting happened when the Constituent Assembly was formed and the Proposed Draft Constitution was made.”
The Proposed Constitution was passed on October 8, 2014, after achieving the required majority vote, that is a two-thirds majority of the total members from Mainland Tanzania as well as Zanzibar. It was supposed to be sent for referendum, a process that has so far not taken place.
LHRC wants the process to go back to the Second Draft Constitution, insisting that the government should create a friendly environment where people can openly and freely discuss issues that affect their lives during that entire process.
“A good constitution is not the one that by 100 per cent includes everything,” warned Ms Henga during the press conference that took place at Sea Shells Hotel in the city. “A good constitution is the one that in its making process everyone took part, that people feel a sense of ownership in the entire process.”
Lukelo Francis is a Dar es Salaam-based The Chanzo’s correspondent. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.