Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) has strongly condemned the ruling party CCM for seeking to hijack the new constitutional review process.
Publicity Secretary John Mnyika told reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday that Chadema seeks the recently explained CCM position as a way of denying the people their rights, while they currently are in need of political change.
In view of this, the party will unveil an awareness campaign starting with Dar es Salaam next Saturday so as to address the issue, and then take the campaign to the southern regions of Lindi and Mtwara from May 28 to June 11.
Mnyika declared that the CCM directives, being the ruling party do not augur well for allowing free opinion from the people, denying them the freedom to contribute views on the constitution making process.
According to Mnyika, public views must be gathered and given priority in the whole process of getting a new constitution, regardless of party affiliations.
Mnyika is on the view that CCM as a ruling party should not take overall control of the whole process, that it must leave the people to decide by contributing their views as the new constitution is pivotal in their future life.
He elaborated that the ruling party should have mobilized for the collection of people’s views in the constitution making process by taking initiative with the community “instead of locking themselves up as they did in their recent meetings in Dodoma.”
CHADEMA has also warned the ruling party for what they have done, terming the pronouncement as contrary to legal procedures of handling the matter, “as it has a great positive interest to the general public,” the top Chadema official noted.
He declared that this is a preliminary weakness which the ruling party has shown and its failure to adhere to the strong commitment expressed for the writing of a new constitution “could yield poor results at the end.”
In view of this, CHADEMA has requested the government to openly declare the second and third legal amendments to the constitutional review law a failure, that it cannot be implemented, in which case “the nation will get a new constitution without the changes so provided.”
CHADEMA has also identified its priority areas in the Budget sitting of Parliament, which the publicity secretary said will concern economic, social and political issues in the country.
The main subject for the House will be inflation which has drastically hit people’s lives in general, while government over expenditure in excess of government revenue is another subject, tied to galloping inflation.
The ruling party through the National Executive Committee (NEC) last week listed 12 sensitive areas in the current constitution which should not be a subject of dispute in the preparation of a new constitution.
CCM publicity secretary Nape Nnauye said CCM shall hand over the list to the National Constitutional Review Commission charged with collecting views on a new constitution, under the chairmanship of ex-Attorney General and retired prime minister, Judge Joseph Sinde Warioba.
Meanwhile, various stakeholders have offered different opinions towards the CCM recommendations of conducting public discussion on private candidacy and the right to question presidential results in court, for inclusion in a new constitution.
CCM on Thursday outlined 12 sensitive areas attracting controversy, where it itemized questioning presidential election results as well as accepting private candidacy as areas that can be discussed, unlike other areas it proposed they remain out of constitutional disputes.
William Kahale, an assistant coordinator of the Constitutional Forum of Tanzania said the CCM recommendations are significant because the issues are important for national cohesion.
He said that the presence of independent candidates and the right to question presidential results in court are vital issues to be included in the new constitution and activists have been struggling to that end, but surprisingly it is the ruling party that is now agreed on the two issues, which it had refused in past years.
“I am surprised to see CCM now living up to the spirit of a new constitution and asking for public discussion while the government prohibited discussion on the new constitution. It seems the party wants to rebuild its reputation as it has been facing various internal quarrels,” he said.
CCM has now seen how popular power unfolds, that’s why it seeks to build its image because at first the party didn’t agree to the reforming of the constitution.
Dr Helen Kijo-Bisimba, executive director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre said the ruling party rejected independent candidacy and the right to question presidential election results in court for years, but now it is accepting those issues. “People need to ask themselves why, and go further.”
“May be CCM fears to lose the presidential seat in the coming election andd it starts getting prepared to question presidential results in court if an opponent is declared the winner,”she said.
“CCM ideas are good but the truth is the party has never asked for those changes for years in the current constitution because CCM always came up as the winner. It now needs changes because there is a strong opposition,” the noted activist added.