President Jakaya Kikwete has appointed former Prime Minister and Attorney General Joseph Sinde Warioba Chairman of a national commission to oversee the review of Tanzania’s Constitution.
Also named are retired Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani, who will be the commission’s Vice Chairman, as well as 30 other members - 15 from the mainland and as many from Zanzibar.
The president announced the formation of the commission at a news conference at State House in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
The formation of the commission follows the National Assembly’s endorsement in December last year of the Constitutional Review Bill.
The commission will be responsible for collecting the views of Tanzanians on the new piece of legislation, which has a direct bearing on the future of the country’s “mother law”.
President Kikwete explained that members of the commission will be sworn in later this month, ready to undertake an assignment expected to last 18 months a few days later.
“If nothing goes wrong, we shall have a new national Constitution in place by 2014,” he said, adding that members of the commission would travel the length and breadth of the country getting a feel of what the people expect from the new Constitution.
He said the commission is expected to complete its work by October 2013 and prepare a draft document to be tabled in a Constituent Assembly for deliberation, “before being taken back to wananchi, who will then decide on it through a referendum”.
“It wasn’t an easy task (forming the commission) as we received over 500 entries from various stakeholders and special interest groups,” the president pointed out.
He explained that the overwhelmingly positive response to calls for applications was encouraging and inspiring and had helped make that particular stage of the process a resounding success.
He called on those not named to the commission to prepare themselves to give their views through the commission wherever they will be.
President Kikwete named the 15 members from Tanzania mainland as including Prof Mwesiga Baregu, Riziki Shahari Mngwali, Dr Edmund Sengondo Mvungi, Richard Shadrack Lyimo, John Nkolo, Alhaj Said Hamad El-Maamry, Jesca Mkuchu and Prof Palamagamba Kabudi.
The others are Humphrey Polepole, Yahya Msulwa, Esther Mkwizu, Maria Malingumu Kashonda, Al-Shaymaa Kwegyir, Mwantumu Malale and Joseph Butiku.
He said members from Zanzibar are Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, Fatma Said Ali, Omar Sheha Mussa, Raya Salim Hamad, Awadh Ali Said, Ussi Khamis Haji, Salma Maoulidi and Nassor Khamis Mohamed.
The others are Simai Mohamed Said, Mohamed Yusuph Mshamba, Kibibi Mwinyi Hassan, Suleiman Omar Ali, Salama Kombo Ahmed, Abubakar Mohamed Ali and Ally Abdullah Ally Saleh.
The president named Assaa Ahmad Rashid as the commission’s Secretary, to be assisted by Casmir Sumba Kyuki. The former previously served as Permanent Secretary in the Justice and Constitutional Affairs ministry, while the latter was Principal Draftsman in the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Reached for comment on the formation of the commission, Legal and Human Rights Centre Advocacy director Harold Sungusia expressed “profound surprise” that renowned constitutional lawyer Prof Issa Shivji did not make the list.
He underscored the need to amend the law so that members of the Constituent Assembly are elected by the public and not by (Union) Members of Parliament and members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives.
Tanganyika Law Society president Francis Stolla meanwhile applauded President Kikwete’s “choice of highly reputable and distinguished professionals” as members of the commission.
He said he saw no reason for members of the commission not to be free and independent in executing its duties “as they will swear to respect the law, hopefully including making sure that Tanzania remains a truly sovereign United Republic”.
In his end-of-the year address to the nation, President Kikwete spoke of the need for Tanzania to have a new constitution to march with the demands and aspirations of a country that has attained half a century of nationhood.
He said the government would lead efforts to craft a new Constitution and ensure that Tanzanians ended up with a “document that accommodates current dynamics and developments”.