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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

CCM MPs allege foreign hand in constitution tussle

17th November 2011
Legislator Richard Ndasa (CCM Sumve)

Members of Parliament from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi have accused diplomats and non- governmental organisations (NGOs) funded by foreign donors of interfering with the on-going constitution review process.

The ruling party’s legislators voiced the accusations in Parliament yesterday when debating the Constitutional Review Bill, 2011 tabled on Monday by Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs Celina Kombani.

Richard Ndasa (CCM Sumve) was the first legislator to launch the attack against foreign diplomats and local NGOs funded by foreign donors, saying the level of opposition that the review process was facing showed there was a strong external force at work.

“Foreign diplomats should leave us alone in this process. Tanzania is an independent state. No one should interfere with or meddle in our internal affairs,” said Ndasa as his fellow CCM lawmakers listened attentively.

Pointing fingers at foreign officials who were seated in the Speaker’s gallery, Ndasa said there was a possibility that there was a group of foreign diplomats sabotaging the constitutional review exercise whose process has started with the tabling of the Constitutional Review Act, 2011.

“Foreign diplomats should stop misleading the public in this process,” he said, adding that local NGOs should put patriotism first.

Ndasa was supported by Said Mtanda (CCM- Mchinga) who accused foreign countries of interfering with the constitution review process.

“Foreign nations should understand that Tanzania is a free country. Yes, they are our friends and our friendship will continue but they should not interfere with this exercise,” he insisted.

On NGOs, he said it was a pity to learn that financial aid extended to them by donors was blinding them to the extent of not embracing patriotism. He said NGOs were now dancing to the tune of donors by misleading the public about the review process.

Stella Manyanya( CCM- Special Seats) and Andrew Chenge ( CCM- Bariadi West) joined the fray, saying people identifying themselves as activists should not hijack the process by putting pressure on the Parliament to do what they want.

“There are groups of individuals that have been applying pressure to have their ideas accommodated into this Bill or for the House to accept whatever they say. If they think they are smarter than the rest of us then they have to think twice,’ said Chenge.

However, none of the CCM lawmakers who contributed to the Bill mentioned any country or diplomats they believed to be interfering with the review process.

On Tuesday Mbinga West MP John Komba lambasted the Constitutional Forum led by its Chairman Deus Kibamba, saying the forum was misleading the public.

The debate which is scheduled to be wound up today has involved CCM, CUF and TLP lawmakers only after Chadema and NCCR-Mageuzi walked out.

Chadema and NCCR legislators have, since the Bill was tabled on Monday, boycotted the debate in protest at what they described as ‘failure to follow proper procedures’.

The accusation of diplomatic interference by the ruling party MPs comes as the Chadema Youth Council (Bavicha) pledged yesterday to support the government if it withdraws the Constitution Review Bill from the debating chamber of the House.

The Council’s chairperson John Heche said: “If the government pays attention over our complaints, we shall not carry out a countrywide demonstration…so to say if the government will withdraw the constitution bill we will be ready to support the government in educating the public on the new constitution,” he said.

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