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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kikwete clears way for review of constitution

 
 
 
President Jakaya Kikwete yesterday assented to the Constitutional Review Bill, 2011, effectively paving the way for the formation of Constitutional Commission, according to a State House statement copied to the media.
The development is an important step towards the formulation of Constitutional Review Act, 2011, with the National Assembly having recently endorsed the bill despite protests from a section of the Opposition camp.
The statement said the presidential endorsement was expected to lead to the birth of a new Constitution for Tanzania as promised by President Kikwete in his New Year address to the nation.
It however noted that, even with the endorsement, the government would continue to receive and accommodate views and recommendations from the public meant to enable Tanzanians to have the Constitution they need and deserve.
President Kikwete has repeatedly urged the people to freely air their views towards that end.
Meanwhile, members of the public interviewed earlier yesterday recommended that the contents of the agreement reached on Monday between President Kikwete and a delegation of Chadema officials be made public for purposes of transparency and good governance.
Many however applauded the government and the opposition party for having agreed on a number of aspects relating to the need for Tanzania to have a new Constitution repealing and replacing the 1977 version.
Tanzania Constitutional Forum steering committee member Hebron Mwakagenda said that the public “must of necessity be involved at all stages leading to the writing of a new Constitution, including what was agreed during the talks between President Jakaya Kikwete and Chadema officials”.
“Issues relating to the Constitution are not for the government and Chadema alone. They are matters of utmost importance to the public and must fully involve the citizenry at every step,” he noted.
He added that the joint statement issued after the talks involving the government and Chadema “looked more of a politically driven communiqué than anything else because it does not specify the particular aspects on which agreement was reached and when actual implementation will begin”.
University of Dar es Salaam don Dr Benson Bana differed, saying the president Kikwete had shown exemplary integrity and wisdom in listening to Chadema’s views, “because the party is among the stakeholders in our country’s politics”.
He also commended Chadema for using opting for dialogue in making their views known “instead of leaving the matter in the hands of people’s power as earlier promised”.
“I hail Chadema for the move (having an audience with the government) even after the National Assembly had endorsed the bill. I remember constitutional reform was among its priority agenda items during last year’s General Election campaign,” said Dr Bana.
Dr Donalth Ulomi of the Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship Development meanwhile said the president’s decision to float the bill further for comments from the citizenry was well-intentioned “because it shows that he is a caring leader who listens to his people”.
He added that it was clear that the bill was still far from perfect, “and hence the sporadic public concern and the need for fine-tuning it with input from the public”.
President Kikwete and Chadema officials on Monday reached a consensus on the modalities of reviewing the country’s Constitution.
The two parties agreed to work on ways to refine the Constitutional Review Bill, 2011 process by continuing with discussions aimed at embellishing it to make it more relevant to the needs of Tanzanians

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