Ubungo legislator John Mnyika yesterday said that he plans to table a private motion on the new constitution in the February session of parliament.
Mnyika said this in Dar es Salaam yesterday during a press conference he called, to stress that the public needed a new constitution and not the amendment of the present one as is being proposed by some government leaders.
“I am planning to table a private motion in the February parliamentary session, because the process towards writing a new constitution starts from the parliament,” Mnyika said.
He noted that since the law recognises one of parliament’s functions as making or amending laws, it is reasonable to start in parliament.
“Since members of the parliament are the representatives of people, it is good if the matter starts there. It will come up with the public views on how the new constitution should look,” he said
He cited some of the government constitutional reforms through various commissions which did not meet the public expectations on how the country should be administered and that even some of the good recommendations were left on shelves.
“The government before 1965 formed a committee which collected public views which led to the interim constitution. Unfortunately, it did not meet public expectations,” he said, adding that ineffectiveness of the committee led to the formation of the Thabit Kombo Committee in 1976 from whose findings the constitution was amended in 1977.
He said in 1991, the Nyalali Commission was formed, named after the late Chief Justice Francis Nyalali, who headed it.
The commission’s recommendation that a new constitution be written was ignored, Mnyika said.
In 1998, the Judge Robert Kisanga Commission also among others, called for a new constitution, again without success.
Mnyika however explained that Tanzanians needed new constitution and not amendments arguing there are some challenges currently facing the country which the present basic laws has failed to address.
He mentioned the challenges as the handling of the general elections which he said threatened the national security and the recent amendment of the Zanzibar Constitution, incorporating a national unity government and establishing the sovereignty of the Isles.
Last Friday, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said he will advise President Jakaya Kikwete to appoint a team to look into modalities of preparing a new constitution for the country.
The Premier said the matter fell under his docket as head of the Constitution and Parliament Committee, one of the four committees of the cabinet.
Leaders and other high-profile figures from Tanzania’s public and private sectors, pressure groups, political parties, religious leaders and ordinary citizens have been pushing for constitutional reforms, with some calling for a complete overhaul of the current (1977) Constitution.
Kenya's High Commissioner to Tanzania, Mutiso Mutinda, recently advised Tanzania against being as slow in drawing up a new constitution.
He said waiting for over 20 years to come up with a new constitution has taught his country bitter lessons.
Human Rights and Good Governance Commission retired High Court judge Amir Manento was recently quoted as saying Tanzania cannot help drawing up a new constitution. Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani also joined the constitutional reform debate, urging the government to consider the issue as a fundamental need for the nation.
The Christian Council of Tanzania called upon the government to speed up the process of putting together a new constitution drawing on the people’s views, through research and wisdom of the founders of the nation.