by Enos Bukuku
“The People’s Opinion”
I had hoped to be able to write about developments in the constitution making process, which has stalled for approximately two years. In early April, the Minister of Constitution and Legal Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, declared that the process would resume. Since then, however, there have not been any statements from him or President Magufuli as to when this important issue will be put back on the political agenda.
CCM Publicity Secretary, Humphrey Polepole, who was a member of the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) which prepared the first draft constitution (known as the “Warioba draft”), has expressed his desire that the process should revert to Warioba draft, and therefore scrap the final draft constitution which caused such deep and irreconcilable divisions amongst those involved in the process. He calls the Warioba draft “the People’s Opinion”. The final version, “the proposed constitution”, was created by the Constituent Assembly (CA), which comprised a vast majority of CCM politicians, and made substantial changes to the Warioba draft, many of which are seen to be unpopular. By implication, the final draft may well be considered “CCM’s opinion”, or perhaps the opinion of the previous CCM government.
The legal process for the formation of a new constitution, which outlines very clear timescales and procedures, does not provide for the CA’s work to be ignored. The next step, according to the legal requirements, is for the final draft constitution to be put to a national referendum for whether it should be approved. If Mr Polepole’s wish is to be granted, then there will need to be a change in the legal procedures, which will not be a quick process.
Certainly, the nation is eager to hear Prof Kabudi’s plans. There is no expectation that we will have a new constitution any time soon. For this to change, the President must be the one to initiate the momentum.
At a time when many are complaining that the fundamental freedoms and rights of individuals are being trodden on, this is when a robust and reliable constitution is needed. There have been various human rights interest groups who have voiced their concerns over the way in which the government is exercising its power. This is supposed to be the people’s constitution – so the people, not just politicians, need to speak up (if they feel they are able to). The likely alternative is the status quo.