The Zanzibar government has warned that it is an offence for any civic organisation, individual or institution to coordinate and collect people's views on the constitution without first obtaining a permit from the Constitutional Review Commission of Tanzania.
The warning was issued by State Minister in the Second Vice-President's Office Aboud Mohammed through a government press release issued in Zanzibar yesterday.
Minister Aboud said the coordination work on people's views on the new constitution was the sole task of the Commission, calling on activists and civic organisations to respect the law that established the body.
“According to the Act, it is an offence for any person, organisation or institution to undertake the work of coordinating people's views without first obtaining a permit from the Constitutonal Review Commission," said Minister About.
The minister said that according to the Act which led to the formulation of the Commission, one can be sentenced up to one year in jail or charged a fine of up to 2m/- for failure to respect the law.
He said recently there were groups of people who have been organizing public meetings without even seeking for permits from district, regional, municipal or council authorities.
“The government wishes to caution the people that before the Commission starts its work according to the law, they should refrain from breaking the law,"emphasized the minister.
Furthermore, he said that the Constitutional Review Act of 2011 lays down conditions that individuals or institutions have to follow before they are allowed to run a mass education campaign.
He said one of the conditions is for an institution or organisation to have legal registration.
“The permit application must show clearly the source of the funding, the date, time and place where the event would be held and the topics to be covered," said Minister Aboud.
Furthermore, he said that an authority that must give the permit must also be mentioned in the Act, therefore no other authority will have that mandate.
He said the Consitutional Review Commission would undertake its tasks as per its business plan and terms of reference so as to ensure that at the end a constitution that meets people's expectations is obtained.
“We don't want people to interfere with this crucial process for our nation," said Minister Aboud.
He warned that the defence and security organs would be keen to follow up discussions on the constitution to ensure that all those who attempt to disrupt peace, tranquility and security would be taken to task according to the law.
He said among key issues to be addressed under the new constitution would be to strengthen the Union as well as finding solutions to its shortcomings.
The warning has come just a few days after reports of the existence of a group calling itself Revival Meetings Association that objects to the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.