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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Constitution timing wrong - NGOs

Deus Kibamba stressing a point while speaking to journalists on the controversial constitution issue, in Dar es Salaam yesterday. On his right is TAMWA Chairperson Ananilea Nkya.

The government has been criticised for its decision to announce the eventual inauguration of the new National Constitution in three years’ time while there were still a number of pending issues to be addressed, including a national consensus on the constitution content.

The sentiments were voiced yesterday by the chairperson of the Umbrella outfit of several Non Governmental organisations, namely Jukwaa la Katiba (constitution platform), Deus Kibamba, when addressing a news conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

Kibamba said: “We were shocked to hear the Prime Minister pronouncing the ultimate inauguration of the constitution in 2014, whereas the entire process for the said constitution was not clear.”

He pointed out that apart from the statement from the PM, the Constitution Review Bill of 2011 which was amended after it was withdrawn from Parliament last April was a source of worry as it was yet to be made public despite the being said to be ready.

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda told a seminar for Regional Commissioners, District Commissioners and Regional and District Administrative Secretaries last week that the new national Constitution would be inaugurated in April 2014 during the 50th anniversary of the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar .

The said Bill is a document meant for kick-starting the process for the new constitution as, among other things, it would provide for establishment of the Constitutional Commission, to be tasked with collecting public views on the new constitution.

Kibamba said his organisation was suspicious on the way the government was dealing with the constitutional Bill.

He said their suspicion was on the ground that despite constant attempts to communicate with the Attorney General on how to work together for better outcome on the matter, their efforts have ended in vein as they were accorded minimum cooperation.

Kibamba, who were accompanied by some leaders from influential NGO’S such Ananilea Nkya of Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA), argued that the Bill for the time being was supposed to be ready for the public to debate on and give alternative views before it is tabled in the House for the second time sometimes this August as per existing schedule.

"It is heart breaking for the Attorney General Office’s failure to accord us with required cooperation on this important matter, even our correspondence wasn’t responded to,” lamented Kibamba, adding that they have been getting all information regarding the Bill from the media.

He added: “It was announced that the amended Bill was ready two weeks after the House meeting last April but the government has not published it in its Gazette so as to enable people to read it this is unnecessary secrecy.”

Kibamba said there was no foreseeable indication as to how the general public would be able to debate on the Bill and give their alternative views.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Anne Makinda, told the House in April that her office had advised the government to withdraw the Bill from the House after it was faulted by a number of stakeholders.

In her announcement then, Speaker Makinda said it was decided that all weaknesses be corrected, the bill be drafted in Kiswahili language and be published in various newspapers, to enable a large section of the public to have a better understanding and contribute for its better content.

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