Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania Constitutional Forum said Friday that it is hoping that the revival of the stalled constitution-writing process will start the soonest, citing the consensus on the need to rewrite the mother law reached across the political spectrum.
Speaking with journalists here today the forum’s board chairperson Dr Analilea Nkya said that the consensus reached is important because for the New Constitution to be a better constitution its process must be based on reconciliation and understanding.
“We hope the process will start the soonest,” Dr Ankya, who is a veteran journalist and socio-political activist, told journalists during a press conference. “And the participation of all social groups [in the process] should be prioritised in order to make the final product really a people’s constitution.”
This is the second time that the Tanzania Constitutional Forum, a Dar es Salaam-based non-profit promoting a culture of respect for and implementation of the constitution, to come forward and tables its proposals on the best way Tanzania can approach the issue of the New Constitution.
On April 27, 2022, the forum’s executive director Bob Wangwe appeared before the presidential task force formed to coordinate stakeholders’ opinions on multiparty democracy to present a four-step process that would deliver the much-needed New Constitution before the general election of 2025.
The forum said then that the starting point in the constitutional making process should be the amendment of the Constitutional Review Act and the Referendum Act so that they can be aligned with the current context.
This proposal has so far been supported by many other stakeholders who have come forward to present their proposals on how Tanzania can rid itself of the current constitutional deadlock.
Presenting her organisation’s proposals on June 24, 2022, Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) executive director Anna Henga for instance said that the government will need to send an amendment bill for the Referendum Act to the parliament so as to give it a legal mandate.
The proposal is also one of “the five important steps” to get the constitution-writing up and going shared by constitutional lawyer and political analyst Deus Kibamba in an article published on The Chanzo on June 28, 2022.
Friday’s press conference by the Tanzania Constitution Forum was prompted by the January 22nd announcement by the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) that emphasized the need to rewrite Tanzania’s constitution “given the current contexts,” with the party’s secretary for ideology and publicity Shaka Hamdu Shaka saying doing so serves “larger national interests.”
While both the Tanzania Constitution Forum and CCM agree on the need for the rewriting of the constitution, the two differ on the urgency of the process. The forum’s Nkya said Friday that given the steps that the think tank has outlined, the process should be expected to start the soonest.
But Mr Shaka said this week that while the party agrees with the demands for the New Constitution, it does not agree with the notion that the process to rewrite the mother law should be fast-tracked, saying “there is no urgency in writing a New Constitution.”
“We support constitutional changes or writing a new constitution but there has to be enough time because there is no urgency,” Mr Shaka was further quoted by the Daily News newspaper on July 6, 2022, as saying.
Lukelo Francis is a Dar es Salaam-based The Chanzo’s correspondent. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.