For quite sometimes now, there have been a public outcry especially during public debates on what the constitution ought to add or reduce in terms of its content.
Some people have raised concern over a section in the constitution calling upon cabinet ministers to be members of parliament first as not necessary…
Critics have always felt that it is hard for our cabinet ministers to balance their duties between being ministers and Members of Parliament suggesting that Parliamentarians should originate from ordinary people and that the posts must be advertised in newspapers and the potential ones undergo interviews.
I have had several reservations in regard to that, but recently while undergoing training on the current constitutional process I came around yet one section of the Constitution Review Act giving yet more duties to our legislators.
This left me wondering as a voter on how our representatives to the big House would be able to balance between their constituency duties and the constituency issues.
The Constitution Review Act gives room for Members of the Parliament and the House of Representatives to form a Constituent Assembly with critics challenging it saying the whole process may be influenced by the majority of legislators in the House and as such leading to the country to come up with a constitution which favours the political parties with more members.
Section 22. - (1) states that “There shall be a Constituent Assembly consisting of members of the National Assembly of the United Republic; all members of the House of Representatives of Zanzibar and 166 members from civil societies whose groups have been identified.”
This means they will have many things to do and subsequently very little time to perform their duties and one wonders whether by doing so wouldn’t be tantamount to depriving voter’s rights to be properly represented in the House.
The Director of Advocacy and Reforms at the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) Harold Sungusia wonders on how members of parliament would be able to balance between their role in the normal parliament and the constitution matters saying something ought to be done to enable them continue to represent their voters.
Section 25. - (1) states that the Constituent Assembly shall have and exercise powers to make provisions for the New Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and to make consequential and transitional provisions to the enactment of such Constitution and to make such other provisions as the Constituent Assembly may find necessary.”
Sungusia however challenges it saying it leaves a lot of doubts taking into considerations that some political parties have more representatives in the House than the rest. He fears that the constitution may end up with some political ideologies of the majority.
An accountant with the LHRC George William calls upon the need to identify the main stakeholders of the constitution to ensure all people have the same platform to air their views.
“Let no one go into the room with all the answers in regard to the constitution and if not, let us quit the process rather than drag people around,” says William.
So much has been said and done, but one more thing ought to be done is to amend some parts of the law. For once, the law could allow ordinary people from different groups to form the Constituent Assembly instead of the current trend where we are going to re load the very same group again and again.
Legal experts may know better than I do, but for sure, let them ponder through carefully. Until then, let peace and tolerance prevail as we begin this important process.