The 34-member Commission led by the retired PM, Judge Joseph Sinde Warioba, starts assignment on May 1, this year, and is expected to wind up 18 months to come. Judge Warioba had promised that the commission is determined to demonstrate why it fits for the big task ahead, but added it needs cooperation of all Tanzanians.
Addressing the swearing in ceremony at the State House grounds, President Kikwete urged highest degree of cooperation with the commission, people from all walks of life to turn up in big numbers and that they should be allowed to air their views without any fear or intimidation.
For us we see this as time to appreciate the political willingness to have in place a new constitution that comes from the people for the people of Tanzania. As the President rightly put it, and we think he deserves praise, we should not allow sentiments bent on derailing our union, for anyone harbouring such views is anti-development and we should not let elements that deter us from achieving our development goals.
The composition of the commission is diverse and of high calibre of highly competent professionals and individuals who have outstanding leadership records in this country. There are also representatives of opposition political parties, special interest groups, some of them who have been very critical and outspoken on the need for a new constitution.
It is, therefore, expected that the outcome of their work will represent national aspirations of the people of Tanzania. This is evident considering the amount of praises showered on the President for the careful selection of the Commission team. The fact that the team has been appreciated is good sign that the end product that would be presented before the Constituent Assembly later, next year, would be the expectations of the majority of the people.
We would expect, therefore, the Commission members would be rational, put behind all their personal beliefs or political affiliation to influence or manipulate the people. The good thing is that Tanzanians of today are very alert; they cannot be taken for a ride. The commission should bear this in mind.
Caution should also be exercised that not all views will be accommodated particularly if they are bent on retarding our development process, for not all that is said will be good for the country. We trust that the commission team will be rational as they criss cross the country to collect views of the people.
Unfortunately, there are words spreading around questioning even the composition of the commission on the basis of representation between Zanzibar and Tanzania mainland, gender, political affiliation and even religious. Much as these people are exercising their democratic right to air their views, they should keep in mind that this has been endorsed by the Act of Parliament that all the groups must be represented in the commission.
What we believe and hope it is true; these are minor and irrelevant observations. We have now reached a time to start the process for a new constitution that has been awaited for a long time. Already leadership direction has been provided by the President, supported by his counterpart in Zanzibar, Dr Mohammed Shein, that the people should air their views on what type of constitution they want in a civil manner. This is the way every one should go.