Clerk of the Zanzibar House of Representatives, Mzee Ibrahim has stressed the importance of electing Constitutional Assembly members before putting in place a commission to coordinate the drawing up of the Union constitution. He was speaking during a seminar for Members of the House of Representatives on the bill for the Union Constitution held at the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports hall in Zanzibar at the weekend.
He said it was important that members of the Assembly are elected by the people and that consideration is given to ensuring equality in the ratio of representation between the Mainland and Zanzibar instead of using MPs and Members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives.
“We need to hold elections for a constitutional assembly before the commission begins collecting views and opinions on the new constitution,” said the secretary.
He argued that the current MPs and Representatives would be biased by their political ideologies instead of putting national interest first in the formulation of the new Union Constitution.
He said the system that has been suggested for selecting members of the Constitutional Assembly would give Zanzibar a smaller representation compared to Tanzania Mainland.
He said out of the 554 members proposed for the Constitutional Assembly including Representatives and Members from the Civic Organisations, Zanzibar would have only 195 while Tanzania Mainland would have 359.
He argued that since Zanzibar had entered the Union with Tanganyika as a sovereign country, it was important to draw up a better ratio of representation from both sides of the Union.
The secretary proposed further that it was important for the Constitutional Assembly to be modeled on the East African Community Parliament whereby each member state is represented by nine MPs regardless of the size of their respective populations.
“We need to embark on the elections of the Constitutional Assembly before formulating a commission that would coordinate opinions on the new constitution,” said the Secretary.
The Minister for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Yusuf Himid, called for the amendment of the article barring the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) from announcing the results of the opinion polls. According to the bill the announcement of the poll results would be done by the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
“This could only cause problems here,” said the Minister.
He said when it came to discussing problems of the Union it was important to let the people speak freely in order to tap all views and opinions before making decisions.
Kwamtipura constituency Representative, Hamza Hassan Juma (CCM) said the Bill for the constitutional change was positive because it had taken into consideration opinions of Zanzibari people.
He said it was important to continue respecting the old constitution as people discuss the need for a new one.
Ziwani constituency Representative, Rashid Seif (CUF) said all matters that would be voted for should be made transparent so that the commission can implement its duties without problems.
“There should also be a clear schedule on the implementation of the different tasks by the Commission,” he said.
Mtambile Representative, Mohamed Haji Khalid (CUF) said the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar was illegal because there was never a time when it received the consent of the House of Representatives.
He therefore suggested that a national referendum should be organised so as to hear out people who want the Union and those who oppose it.
He cautioned further that Zanzibar was at the point of making a suicidal decision because most of its young population was yet to be registered in the permanent voters’ register.
For his part, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Pandu Ameir Kificho, said it was important to address problems facing the Union to help pave the ground for the formulation of the Union Constitution.
Earlier, the Zanzibar Minister for Constitution and Justice, Abubakar Khamis Bakari, said the bill preparation enjoyed great cooperation by leaders from both sides of the Union.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN, 15 November 2011