The Opposition Camp in Parliament triggered fierce debate on Friday arguing the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) was wrong in ordering Ward Development Committees (WDCs) to preside over the process of choosing members to form district constitutional assemblies on Mainland Tanzania.
They warned that this trend of getting a new constitution could divide the public instead of uniting them.
Opposition Chief Whip Tundu LissuLissu said while the Constitutional Review Act, 2012 gave powers CRC to craft the best system to undertake its activities, the decision of using WDCs choose members to form the district constitutional assemblies was sheer political interference in constitutional making process.
Lissu said in Zanzibar the process of choosing members was conducted directly by people in their Shehias. But the situation on Mainland Tanzania was different because members chosen from the villages and streets were later screened by WDCs.
WDCs consist of councilors, ward executive officers and village chairpersons, who according to the current country’s political landscape are CCM members.
Lissu said Shehia residents in Zanzibar were allowed to elect the chairperson and secretary to supervise the election of members to form the district constitutional assemblies, but on the Mainland it was different because village/street chairpersons and executive officers presided over the election process.
Also under the country’s political setting almost all village/street chairpersons are CCM members.
According to Lissu, the election of members from villages and streets into the district constitutional assemblies could be credible only if villagers and street residents were allowed to directly elect them as Zanzibaris did, instead of taking the names of the elected candidates to the WDCs for decision on who should and who should not be in the district assemblies.
The opposition chief whip said on Mainland Tanzania villagers or streets residents had no final say on the members they elected to the district constitutional assemblies as their task was just to recommend by voting before the elected names were taken to WDC for final decision.
Only four individuals were picked by the WDCs from each shehia, village or street to enter the district constitutional assemblies.
District constitutional assemblies will be charged with the responsibility of studying the new constitutional draft before making recommendations that would pave the way for fine tuning the draft that would be tabled before the constituent assembly.
On his part Leader of Opposition in the House Freeman Mbowe said the path that CRC took would divide Tanzanians rather than unite them as the process for drafting the supreme law has not been inclusive.
“We are calling upon relevant authorities to rectify these anomalies because we want to make something that we and our grandchildren will be proud of.
“If you think what we are saying here is nonsense, go ahead do it,” Mbowe added, warning the government over its reluctance to listen to the opposition concerns.
However, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Mathias Chikawe, Attorney General Frederick Werema and deputy energy and minerals Minister George Simbachawene defended CRC’s decision.
They said since CCM was the dominant party in the country, getting many CCM members into the assemblies was inevitable.
Recently CRC Chairman Judge Joseph Warioba raised concerns over political parties, religious organisations and other entities interfering with the process; especially the stage of electing members into district constitutional assemblies.
During the debate for ministry’s budget, CCM member Dr Asha-rose Migiro was accused of instructing party leaders at lower levels to ensure they planted their members into the district constitutional assemblies.