By Frederick Longino
In the light of the political enthusiasm in Tanzania today, there is no doubt that everyone, with the exception of the cynics, was eagerly looking forward to the selection by President Kikwete of the (hopefully) reputable, distinguished and impartial people needed to serve on the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) which will be responsible for collecting public views and recommending the main features of the proposed new constitution.
On 6 April 2012 he revealed the names of the team before a well-attended press conference at the State House.
They include former Prime Minister and Chairperson of the Anti-corruption Enquiry Commission Judge Joseph Warioba as the Chairperson and retired Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhan as the Vice Chairperson, as well as 30 other members – 15 from the mainland and 15 from Zanzibar. The President named Assaa Ahmad Rashid as the Commission’s Secretary, to be assisted by Casmir Sumba Kyuki. The former previously served as Permanent Secretary in the Justice and Constitutional Affairs Ministry, while the latter was Principal Draftsman in the Attorney General’s Chambers.
The 15 from Tanzania mainland include Prof Mwesiga Baregu (political science professor at St. Augustine University and Chadema political advisor), Riziki Shahari Mngwali (lecturer at the Centre for Foreign Relations, Dar es Salaam), Dr Edmund Mvungi (constitutional lawyer, Vice Chancellor of Bagamoyo University and NCCR-Mageuzi party legal advisor), Richard Lyimo, John Nkolo (chair of the Tanzanian Centre for Democracy), Alhaj Said Hamad El-Maamry (lawyer and sports administrator), Jesca Mkuchu (Tanzania Gender Networking Programme), Professor Palamagamba Kabudi (Dean of the University of Dar es Salaam School of Law), Humphrey Polepole (Youth Advocacy), Yahya Msulwa (Teachers’ Union), Esther Mkwizu (private sector), Maria Malingumu Kashonda (chairperson of the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association), Al-Shaymaa Kwegyir (CCM MP special seat), Mwantumu Malale (former Principal Secretary in the Government and the Vice Chancellor of the Islamic University of Morogoro) and Joseph Butiku (Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation executive director).
Members from Zanzibar include Dr Salim Ahmed Salim (former Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and member of the Nyerere Foundation), Fatma Said Ali, Omar Sheha Mussa (former CCM MP Chumbuni), Raya Salim Hamad (CCM House of Representatives Special seat), Awadh Ali Said (Zanzibar Law Society), Ussi Khamis Haji (lawyer and former Vice-chair Zanzibar Electoral Commission), Salma Maoulidi (Womens rights), Simai Mohamed Said (chairman of the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors), Abubakar Mohamed Ali (Director General Zanzibar Clove Producers Organization) and Ally Abdullah Ally Saleh (BBC Swahili correspondent).
The selection had been made from a pool of 550 names proposed by political parties, religious institutions, NGOs and other interested parties.
The media, as well as online discussions, indicated that many Tanzanians at home and abroad approved many of the names in spite of a minority opposition from a few who are unhappy with the omission of renowned constitutional lawyer Professor Issa Shivji and the domination of lawyers in the Commission.
Admirably, President Kikwete opted to maintain the solidarity of Tanzanians and ensure that even controversial and outspoken names were included. Well-wishers are lauding the President’s fearless heart and willingness to stand against some of his own party, despite the epithets that have flowed freely since speculation about the membership built up. If this was a CCM love story to rival opposition parties, then Kikwete wrote a script that even opposers of the President would have been proud of. Kikwete admitted (Nipashe) on March 7 that, he feared for his party in power first, despite praising the performance of the opposition MPs team, with emphasis on his impressive record in listening to different opinions. He added: “How many times have I been in that position and tried to reconcile opposing views?”
It is difficult to find anything negative to say about the Commission at the moment– but people expect more firepower in parliament in 2014 when the final Constitution Bill will be tabled for debate and approval.
The Commission was due to commence work on 1 May 2012 and to finish by the end of October 2013, when it will prepare a draft document to be tabled in a Constituent Assembly for deliberation, before being taken back to the people, who will then decide on it through a referendum.
(Since this was written we have learnt that CHADEMA founder and retired Chairperson Edwin Mtei had protested that there were 21 Muslims and only nine Christians on the team; this did not adequately reflect the calibre and experience required, he said. CHADEMA MP for Singida East Tundu Lissu was unhappy about the 15 Zanzibar members representing a population of 1.5 million while the 15 members from the mainland represented some 40 million people – Editor).