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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Bright Union rests in Constitutional review

26th April 2012
Editorial cartoon

Today, Tanzanians are celebrating 48 years since Tanganyika and Zanzibar, hosting diverse civilisations and cultures, came together and formed one country.

The nearly five decades since that move is a fairly long journey for an individual, but viewed in terms of a nation, it is not that long.

Most Tanzanians were born during this period and have regarded themselves as such, and see the country as such, rather than as the former Tanganyika or Zanzibar.

Over the years the differentiating characteristics have gradually faded into the background and the bonds of unity grown stronger, shown by the closer interactions among its people, shared development vision and exploitation of resources.

During its 48 years of existence, the Union has definitely passed through various challenges — some threatening to pull it apart.

But it not only survived, but has recorded remarkable progress that would not have been achieved without being together.

For the first 23 years, the overriding contradiction on how Union matters should be handled reflected the Mainland-Zanzibar division. This is what prompted the emergence of the Group of 55 in the early 1990s which threatened to tear apart the Union.

The fifteen-year period that followed was marked by a long running resentment of the Union by the residents of Pemba who felt that they were less favoured compared to Zanzibar.

Thanks to the 2009 accord by the ruling party CCM and the Civic United Front (CUF), this jinx now remains history, and the Isles are now more peaceful than any part of the continent.

This has been possible after several commissions were appointed to look into how the two parties to the Union can amicably discuss and resolve their contradictions.

Despite these achievements, it must be understood that the CUF-CCM pact has not solved all the problems of the Union. It has however shown that no challenge is beyond solution, where there is a huge pool of goodwill to pursue development together.

Tanzanians in their plurality have a better chance now to bolster the image of the Union and if anything make it richer than any other time in its history — and this is when discussing the Union Constitution.

The issues of the Union just like many other political ones that have arisen in the recent past are largely democratic. They can at best be resolved through democratic means.

Good enough, only three weeks ago President Jakaya Kikwete appointed a Constitutional Review Commission which will oversee the collection of views from Tanzanians across the country.

It is our hope that those who have complaints or ideas on how the Union should be will use this opportunity to share their views through the commission.

Our belief is that the entire exercise shall be transparent and no one who wants to register views shall be barred.

In so doing, we think, the frequent complaints that we hear from certain quarters will be done away through the writing of the new constitution.

In our thinking, this is the surest way in which we can end any perceived shortfalls of the Union and ensure that it continues the positive work of bringing development to the people.


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