The Constitution Review Commission has been criticised for monopolising everything in the process, giving a very limited space for local civil society organisations (CSOs), to effectively take part in the important exercise.
Chairman of the Tanzania Constitution Forum, Deus Kibamba voiced the criticism here over the weekend when presenting a paper on “The new Tanzania’s Constitution Making Process: Where we come from, where we are, and where we are going” at a seminar organised by an Arusha-based CSO — Hakikazi Catalyst.
The one-day seminar involved over 200 villagers, local government and religious leaders, as well as activists from Arusha, Manyara, Kilimanjaro and Tanga regions.
Kibamba said that the commission, led by former Prime Minister Joseph Warioba has monopolised everything including the task of providing civic education to the public on the constitution review process, despite the fact that CSOs have the ability to do so.
“CSOs also are not allowed to collect people’s views on the constitution, despite the fact that CRC cannot reach all people across the country…to us this is not acceptable and need to be rectified,” he said.
Kibamba cited section 17 (2) (a) of the CRC Act, 2011, which doesn’t allow anybody to collect people’s views on the constitution.
Under the Act, CRC is the only body responsible for doing so and if CSO or any other group of people wants to do so, it must seek permission from CRC or District Commissioner/District Executive Director (DED) on behalf of the commission and the latter must reveal the source of funds.
“This CRC Act is undemocratic and shouldn’t be tolerated.
This ruins the good intention of the process, as CSOs have a big role to play, such as being a watchdog to the commission. CRC team is unable to reach all villages across the country, hence allowing CSOs to play their role will make the exercise more successful,” he said.
He added that time allocated for civic education was too short to make the public informed.
“I have attended some of the public meetings organised by the commission and I learnt that members of the team give only five minutes on education of constitution review process, which to me is not enough…and this is because the commission wants to do everything alone.
What we’re doing is for Tanzanians. Why are we restricting other stakeholders from playing their role?” Kibamba asked.
Monduli-based villager, Thabitha Emanuel said that it was time for the constitution team to ensure that all key players take part in the entire process.
“The commission will not reach all people across the country, so, they must welcome others to play their role…constitution making process is not a one-man show,” she said.
Ezekiel Muhubili from Kilimanjaro said: “What the CRC is doing is to hijack people’s power. This will make us start suspecting that this commission has a hidden agenda. Why is it monopolising everything?”
Muhubili who is a coordinator for the Kilimanjaro-based NGOs’ network, said that CSOs have the manpower and skills on a number of issues, so, they should be allowed to collect people’s views in areas where the commission will not be able to reach.
Responding to the criticism, Judge Warioba said the creation of a constitutional process is guided by special procedures involving four main steps and not individual interests.
He mentioned the first step as gathering the views of the people countrywide.
The second step will involve constitution councils airing their views, at which he said people and organisations will have the opportunity to express their views.
"That is where the local civil society organisations will have the opportunity to do what they want. Let them be patient until their time comes,'' said.
He mentioned the fourth steps as the creation of constitutional assembly and later on citizens will be allowed to vote in the referendum.