Stakeholders of the constitution review process have underlined the need to hold a series of seminars, debates and workshops with different groups in order to achieve a viable constitution.
The call was made in Dar es Salaam yesterday by the National Organization for Legal Assistance’s (NOLA) Programme Manager, Charles Mkude when presenting a paper at a breakfast meeting organised by the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) asking: “Is a Viable Constitution Possible Amidst Inadequate Information?”
He said there was a need to consult all people, gather their views and raise public awareness for the country to have a viable and durable constitution.
According to Mkude, a viable constitution is only practical when there is a fuller engagement of the citizens in making decisions on how they want to be governed and its writing process should be a platform for the citizens to voice their concerns and how they want to set certain structures of governance.
“It is at this stage that the media and other stakeholders play a vital role in sensitising the public on the need to discharge their civic obligation of deciding on the matters that touch and concern their well being for the enhancement of social cohesion of the country,” said Mkude.
He stressed that the above process cannot be effective if there is no adequate information to both the process and the actual content of the document.
According to Mkude, this would therefore require a mutual flow of information from all parties.
“This necessitates that the citizens rights bearers should know their rights and be vigilant to demand them and the government’s duty bearers should be ready to supply such rights.”
He underlined that approving a constitution through holding a referendum is yet another forum where the people are consulted whereas the exercise becomes more meaningful when the government accepts to be bound by the verdict of the people.
He said that under the circumstances, section 36(1) of the Constitutional Review Act (CRA) of 2012 categorically states that the referendum decision shall be binding to the government.
He cautioned against hastening the process, saying: “We stand to lose in a hurry than by engaging and ensuring we have an all inclusive document that will satisfy the needs of every group.”
In doing so, many challenges and tests will emerge, but those are crucial in reinforcing the people's democracy, he said.