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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Constitution review bill to be tabled on April 18

5th April 2011
  Opposition: Give people time

As government prepares to table the Constitutional Review bill in Parliament on April 18, the opposition camp has said the time provided for gathering public views on the proposed law was too short.

The date was confirmed by the National Assembly director for information, civic education and international relations, Jossey Mwakasyuka at a press conference here.

The leader of the opposition in the House, Freeman Mbowe said the Constitution is a sensitive matter and that he expected the government to avoid rushing the bill to the parliament.

He said instead, more time should have been provided for the public to comment on the bill. “Constitution sets the nation’s future. We do not need to rush in this important matter which will afford Tanzanians the opportunity to determine how they should be governed,” noted Mbowe.

He said a better alternative was to have the bill published in various newspapers so as to get more views.

“Let the universities, non-governmental organisations and the general public read the bill, because only a few have. We are against any procedure which will give us unacceptable constitution,” he said.

He said the opposition position was aimed at ensuring that at the end, the government comes up with a document representing public opinions.

For his part, the former leader of the opposition in the house, Hamad Rashid Mohamed said the House has the powers to rewrite the bill by omitting all ‘unwanted’ provisions in the national interests.

He pointed out that if the government rejected the amendments, the MPs would reject the entire bill until the necessary changes are made.

The bill is expected to be subjected to the public hearing for the first time on Thursday, in Dodoma and Dar es Salaam. The public hearing sessions led by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constititution, Legal and Administration are scheduled to last for two consecutive days and where necessary, the sessions would be extended for a third day.

Last Saturday the said bill came under fire during the symposium held at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Academicians, political party leaders, university students and activists pointed out several sections which needed to be removed or drastically changed.

Among the areas mentioned was the excess powers vested with the President in the process of reviewing the constitution and the provisions which prohibits any person to question the duties of the Constitution Commission also to be formed by the President and the criminal cases against the perpetrators.

However, the National Assembly Clerk Dr Thomas Kashililah told The Guardian in an exclusive interview on Sunday that the stakeholders’ concerns cannot stop the House from implementing its duties though some of their opinions will be taken on board.

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