FCS enables multitudes to participate in draft constitution discussions

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MARA - Arguably, for the first time in history, hundreds of farmers and herders in the Northern Tarime District of Mara Region have participated in the new constitution making process.
The special groups were this time around able to discuss the new constitution draft at a special forum organised by Tarime Farmers and Livestock keepers Association (CHAWAWATA) in late August. Through the support from the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS) various people from 30 wards of the gold rich district of Tarime had it as a dream come true - to make their mark on the draft document.


“This is my first time to give views on the new constitution process and I thank CHAWAWATA for organizing this forum and FCS for sponsoring it”, said Stephen Musa, 64, who is a peasant at Nyangoto village.
Ms. Bukobora Chacha, 24 from the neighbouring Kitare ward described the constitution as the strongest instrument in running affairs of any country. “I am very happy to give my views on it and I believe that my observations will finally be included in the new constitution,” said Bukobora.
The constitutional forum was attended by farmers and livestock keepers from Kemambo, Matongo, Kitare, Kibasuka and Binaga wards.
However, the issue of land ownership dominated the discussion.
“For us land ownership is still hypothetical. When minerals are discovered in different places people are removed from their lands. We want the new constitution to be very clear on land ownership”, Marwa Mwita Mroni said when referring to article 7 of the new constitution draft.
On her part, Ms. Bukobora said citizens should be given top priority when it comes to issues of land ownership. “Citizens should be given power to own land and the government should come last,” she proposed.
Mr. Stephen Musa when presenting views complied by his group during the forum said that citizens should be given more power to negotiate directly and enter into contracts with investors who are interested to occupy their land instead of the latter bargaining with the government first.
Musa said the current problems are caused by the 1977 Constitution, which states that land belongs to the President, whereas it should belong to the citizens.
The forum also criticized part of the new constitution draft, which calls for a conducive environment for investment opportunities, saying that it might create a loophole for investors to grab all the arable land from citizens. “This is one way of grabbing land from the people and hand it over to investors. This part of the draft document should be removed, and hence should not appear in the new constitution”, suggested John Chacha Sasi during the forum.
On the positive side, they hailed the part of new draft document, which opens room for farmers and herders to have reliable markets for their products.
The forum in Tarime also wanted retired civil servants to be barred from further re-appointments into public offices soon after retiring – so as to effectively create more new jobs for the youths. “Retired civil servants should rest and leave the jobs to be taken by the jobless youths”, Chacha said.
On the other hand, majority of them wanted the word ‘Tanzania Mainland’ to be changed into Tanganyika, arguing that Tanzania is a Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Hence, the word ‘Mainland’ should be excluded.
On his side, Mr. Stephen Chacha, the Coordinator for CHAWAWATA thanked FCS for facilitating the new constitutional forums, a move which he said might help to come up with a constitution that will solve problems that have been facing farmers and livestock keepers for decades.
“We thank FCS for enabling us to adequately engage the farmers and livestock keepers so that they too can say what they want to be included in the new constitution,” said Chacha.


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