The government yesterday officially set the pace for writing the country’s new Constitution after the National Assembly passed the Constitution Review Bill, 2011 amid objection from two opposition parties.
The two opposition parties that strongly objected to the Bill, Chadema and NCCR-Mageuzi boycotted the debate on the Bill, which begun on Monday, on the grounds that it did not follow proper legal procedures.
According to the two opposition parties, the Bill was required to be tabled in Parliament for First Reading, not Second Reading.
Winding up the debate yesterday the Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Celina Kombani defended the Bill, saying all legal procedures were followed.
She said considering the fact that the Bill was tabled for First Reading in Parliament in April this year it would have been improper to bring it again for First Reading in the 5th Parliamentary meeting that concludes its business today.
She said opposition parties were not telling the public the truth that public hearings were held in Dodoma, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
After passing the Bill, Speaker Anne Makinda told the National Assembly that she held a meeting with the leader of the official opposition in Parliament Freeman Mbowe on Thursday with the objective of listening to their concerns.
“During the meeting with the leader of the opposition in Parliament I asked them to tell me the problem behind their walking out of the House on Monday but up to end of our meeting we agreed to disagree,” she said.
She added: “After passing through the Parliamentary standing orders governing the handling of Bills I did not see where I went wrong in handling the just concluded Bill.”
She criticised Chadema and NCCR- Mageuzi MPs for walking out, saying their decision was unjustified. “The mistake they made was to walk out.
If they had reservations and objections they should have remained in the chamber where they would have made their voices heard,’” she said.
She said by not contributing to the Bill they did not do justice to their voters.
“They also did not fulfill their Constitutional obligations.”
Announcing the amendments to the passed Bill, Kombani said the government dropped its proposal that wanted both, the presidents of the United Republic and Zanzibar to get advice of Attorney General of the United Republic and Zanzibar in appointing members of the Constitutional Review Commission ( CRC), instead the two presidents would discharge such a responsibility on their own.
The envinsaged new Constitution is set to be inaugurated on April, 26, 2014.