Dar es Salaam, Tanzania - The Constituent Assembly drafting Tanzania's new constitution has passed its rules of procedure, after three weeks of wrangling and rowdy interruptions that sometimes brought despair to the watching public.
“Today, we have completed our first task by passing the Constituent Assembly’s rules of procedure,” Assembly’s interim chair Pandu Ameir Kificho said early Tuesday after the conclusion of the preliminary session.
Adjourning the session, Kificho announced that the order of business on Wednesday would start with election of the Chair to preside over the legislature.
According to the Assembly members’ own convention, if the Chair to be elected hails from Mainland Tanzania, the Deputy Chair should be picked from Zanzibar Isles or vice versa.
“After election of the Chair, the Assembly will vote for its Deputy Chair abiding by our principle of gender balance,” Kificho said, meaning that the two positions must be shared between a male and a female.
Meanwhile, Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) has faulted the composition of the Constituent Assembly as a major cause of the chaos that characterised its performance over the last three weeks.
“We have witnessed political rivalry since the Assembly members convened in Dodoma (Tanzania’s capital). They sought to show how each group or party was more powerful than the other,” said THRDC coordinator Onesmo Olengurumwa.
In the view of some human rights activists here, “the big mistake” was the decision taken by Tanzanian authorities to mix 201 presidential nominees with over 400 politicians drawn from the Union Parliament and Zanzibar’s House of Representatives.
According to Olengurumwa, 75 percent of the Assembly members are politicians without legitimacy to represent Tanzanians in the constitution making process because they were not elected for that purpose.
Although not directly nominated to the Assembly by the public, presidential nominees were drawn from various interest groups to represent farmers, pastoralists, higher learning institutions, religious denominations, trade unions and the disabled.