Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Tanzania and Rwanda should tone down on the ‘negotiating with the FDLR’ remarks

Nicodemus Minde
The governments of Tanzania and Rwanda, through their Foreign Ministries have been embroiled in a heated war of words over remarks made by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete on the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) rebels. President Kikwete during the 50th anniversary of the African Union in Addis Ababa, called on Rwanda to negotiate with the rebel outfit because the military efforts have failed. In a quick rejoinder Louise Mushikiwabo, the Rwandan Foreign Minister described Kikwete’s remarks as “aberrant” and “shocking”. His Tanzanian counterpart Bernard Membe recently told the Tanzanian parliament that President Kikwete will not apologize or change his opinion over the need for Rwanda to negotiate with FDLR. This is indeed a sensitive topic within the realm of the region’s stability. Rwanda negotiating with FDLR will be hard thing to do. This majority Hutu rebel outfit has based in Eastern DRC has fought the government of President Kagame and consists of Hutu remnants who fled to DRC after the 1994 Genocide. President Kikwete only gave a possible avenue for resolving the impasse. The hyperbolic reactions by the two Foreign Ministers should be toned down. Tanzania and Rwanda have enjoyed a peaceful and cordial relationship over the years and this small affairs should not ruin the relationship.

Initial Reactions to draft constitution of Tanzania

The first draft of the proposed new constitution of Tanzania has to a large degree captured crucial and fundamental issues that affect our nation. The unveiling of this draft has not only signaled a new dawn, but also reignited in us the values and ethos that make us who we are. We are at the brink of prosperity. I believe in Tanzania, the land of great people, minds and plenty. This blog shall from today, examine in detail specific sections of the proposed draft and critically evaluate the proposals therewith. As pointed before, writing a new constitution and the process itself is a sign of expansive democratic space in Tanzania. We do not take this lightly, we gladly thank the Almighty for his merciful graces. 

The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) led by retired judge Joseph Warioba, yesterday unveiled the first draft of the proposed new law after months of extensive collection of ideas, proposals and opinions. Warioba pointed out that there were 1942 meetings which were attended by 1.3 million people. A sneak preview of the proposed law, indicates that a substantial amount of effort went through the process. Here are some of the key highlights:

1. The Federal Type of Government (Serikali ya Shirikisho) between two states; Republic of Tanganyika and Peoples' Republic of Zanzibar.
2.  The emphasis that Kiswahili remains the national and official language of communication in all public and government sectors. That English can be used as an official language when need be.
3.  The Gifts of the nation (Tunu za Taifa); They shall include; humanity, patriotism, integrity, unity, transparency, responsibility, and national language. These define who we are.
4.  Ethics and leadership of public servants. A critical section that will curb corruption, graft, nepotism and embezzlement of public money.
5.   Bill of rights- This champions the rights of every Tanzanian, regardless of gender, race, social status, religion, and physical condition. More expansive and detailed. 
6.  Citizenship: Dual Citizenship omitted
7.  Structure of the Union: A Federal Type with three governments:                            
  • Government of the United Republic of Tanzania
  • Government of the Revolutionary Zanzibar
  • Government of Tanzania mainland.  
N/B: The structure of the Union shall be discussed in subsequent articles in this blog.
8. The Executive: Not more than fifteen ministers and their assistants. The Ministries shall be in line with the provisions of the constitution and the government in place.The Minister must have attained at least a university degree and will not be an MP from the union parliament, mainland parliament or representative from the Representative Council of Zanzibar. 
9. Parliament: Key areas; There shall be a Union Parliament. An MP shall have a 3 term limit of 5 years, after which he shall be ineligible to run. A recall clause. An MP can be recalled by his constituents if they see he/she is not working as mandated.
10. There shall be a Union Judiciary made up of a Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.
11. An Independent Electoral Commission shall be instituted.
12. There shall be a Ethics, Leadership and Responsibility Commission.
13. There shall also be a National Commission on Human Rights.

Add-ons: Union Matters
  1. Constitution and Authority of the United Republic of Tanzania
  2. National Security of the United Republic of Tanzania
  3. Citizenship and Immigration
  4. Money and Central Bank of Tanzania
  5. Foreign Affairs
  6. Registration of Political Parties and;
  7. Taxation of commodities and revenues that do not have tax resulting from union matters.

More on the Draft Constitution in subsequent postings.

See draft of the Proposed Constitution and Further reading here.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Tanzania's Constitutional Review Commission to release first draft this afternoon

The Constitutional Review Commission will today unveil the first draft of the proposed new constitution. In this historic event, the CRC will outline the proposed new constitution before a televised live broadcast from Karimjee Hall. Tanzanians wait with baited breathe to see what the new constitutional will be like. After months of intense collection of views, deliberations and critical constitutional review, the Commission chairman Joseph Warioba will present us a proposed new law. The process has been largely successful in terms of citizen engagement, civil society input, political party proposals, inputs by various religious organizations and private citizens. 

Tanzania comes of age in this landmark occasion when the CRC unveils the first draft. The CRC process in itself earmarks the onset of a new constitutional order in the country. Tanzanians wait to see what the draft will say on critical issues such as the union between Tanzania mainland and Tanzania-Zanzibar. Of crucial importance shall be the system of governance and the nature of the union. Will it be a sole unitary state? or will it be a semi structured federal or decentralized state? will it be a two tier government system? This remains the most important section, which if correctly outlined and consented by the people shall either salvage or rock the union. Other crucial elements shall be the powers of the president, which must be trimmed and checked if we really envisage a democratic society. The role of parliament and the where the president shall draw his cabinet is also crucial. Civil liberties and rights of citizens is also of crucial importance. The rights of disabled members of society, inclusivity, increased democratic space among many are also areas that the draft should address.

Another very important segment that the draft should address is the role of provincial administration. The provincial administration has for decades been used as a ruling party arm where retired army generals who are CCM bigwigs, use the office as a CCM machinery for controlling regional resources. 

The issue of curbing the ever increasing religious intolerance should also be addressed. I trust that the draft will meet the expectations of the Tanzanian people. God bless Tanzania!