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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

New Constitution Review Bill, 2011 to be tabled in Parliament in October

25th August 2011

The New Constitution Review Bill, 2011 will be tabled in parliament for second reading during the 5th parliamentary meeting in October this year, the Acting Parliament Clerk, John Joel said yesterday.

In an interview with The Guardian yesterday, Joel said the new Bill which was to have been tabled during the ongoing parliamentary meeting has been postponed to October.

The National Assembly in April this year withdrew the bill from the House where it was being debated, saying it wanted to give more time for public consultations and contributions.

According to Joel, the new document is very crucial, so legislators needs enough time to scrutinise it. He added: “The document has to be checked thoroughly, adding that currently the legislators are overwhelmed with parliamentary activities since the ongoing budget meeting requires a lot of concentration.

Addressing the Regional Commissioners (RCs) and District Commissioners (DCs) in June this year Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said the government expects that by April 2014 the new Constitution will be in place.

He said when the parliament passes the Bill the nation will fully engage in writing the draft for the New Constitution. He said the draft would focus on the roles, responsibilities and duties of the three pillars of the state - Judiciary, Legislature and Executive - as well as human rights and good governance.

Last week, the Constitutional Forum launched a ten-rule new constitution guideline, insisting on among others, the consent to independent candidacy in general elections and elimination of legislators in the posts of Regional Commissioners and the cabinet.

The forum Chairman, Deus Kibamba said the move towards a new constitution should consider the ten outlined rules, since the areas have been cause of contradictions within the community.

Kibamba said the other rules included in the guideline are society ethics, an independent electoral commission, reduction of presidential powers, and review of authoritative mode at district level whereby District Commissioners should be eliminated and their posts taken by village representatives in their respective areas.

Others are issues of the Union and its formation, Tanganyika being part of the United Republic of Tanzania, the death penalty, gender equality and whether or not to recognise the government of Zanzibar.

During the recent national constitutional-review forum organised by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), reformists, human right activists and members of the public vowed to fight any attempts by authorities to block writing of the new constitution.

They blamed those in the national-leadership circles for “fear of the unknown” noting that “they think that a new constitution cannot be drafted without bloodshed…this is very wrong. Writing of new constitution can be done peacefully.”

In April this year, the National Assembly withdrew the widely criticised Constitutional Review Bill, 2011 and gave more time for public consultations and contributions following criticism of its contents and language, among others.

Speaker of the National Assembly, Anne Makinda said her office respected the opinions of the public and stakeholders.

The Bill which was tabled in the house under a certificate of urgency, attracted fierce criticism from academicians, students, legislators, government leaders and other stakeholders from Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar, all of them criticising the draft Bill as “unfriendly and undemocratic.

The public hearings in Dodoma, Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar were marred by exchange of bitter words, chaos and use of live bullets by police.”

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