espite forming a consensus committee for the objective of working on certain thorny issues in the Standing Orders, the Constituent Assembly still remained deadlocked yesterday evening in the aspect of mode of voting.
So far the CA has spent three weeks without resolving the matter. They again sought more time to work on the issue. Going by the rate of per diem offered to them of Sh 300,000 the CA has now spent close to Sh3.2 billion, battling on the Standing Orders. It was thought that having the committee formed by Interim CA chairman Pandu Ameir Kificho the consensus committee the CA would have struck the deal yesterday. Members of the CA have since day one differed on the mode of voting. Some have preferred to reach decisions on contentious issues through open ballot while others defended a secret ballot mode. The CA interim chairman adjourned the Assembly up to Monday to take note of a need for more time to bring insights on section 37 of the draft, which provides on how make decisions in passing the draft document, while section 38 focuses on the mode of voting, and remains unsolved.
Experience over the past week showed that there were tensions among members on some areas, including this one that needs to be put clear and well elaborated for CA session to move on amicably. Another sensitive issue that was later determined is quorum needed to pass resolutions and amendments, which should now be two thirds of total members from both Zanzibar and the Mainland. The CA Interim Chairman, Pandu Ameir Kificho was on Friday forced to adjourn the house until Saturday morning to give time to the special committee on resolutions (maridhiano) to discuss the issue of voting and report back to the house. The committee under Kificho was to meet on Friday from 3:30 pm to deliberate on the matter and report back to other groupings forming the CA before the resolutions tabled in the debating chamber yesterday morning session.
This decision was reached after consultation between the committee on standing order, the chairman and key members including the official Opposition leader, Freeman Mbowe, NCCR-Mageuzi Chairman, James Mbatia, UDP Chairman John Cheyo among other leaders.
Addressing the house after the consultations, the interim chairman said: “We have resolved to refer the matter to be debated between section 32-45 of the standing orders to the conflicts and resolution committee for amicable solution. “We are doing this so that next week we start official sitting of the Parliament after its inauguration by President Jakaya Kikwete”.
He advised that after the meeting, members of different groupings that were part of the special committee should report back to their respective groups and party caucus at 5:00 pm, briefing them of what was agreed upon.
The CA failed to decide, and the relevant sections were skipped as the house passed other sections of the standing orders. It was until on Thursday evening the CA was done with other section, thus attention was brought to the left over.
Presenting the report of the 20-member committee last week, Committee Chairman, Prof. Costa Mahalu, told the eagerly anxious assembly that the Committee did not reach a consensus on which system to be adopted due to the fact that both are used in any democratic election.
“The matter was very difficult and, we took a lot of time deliberating on it, because apparently both systems are legally allowed in electoral processes…As a result, we have decided to bring the issue back to for you decision, “announced Mahalu.
The matter will now be decided by voting as advised by one member Ms Anne Kilango Malecela and is expected to draw the attention of the general public.
Kificho postponed the seminar until tomorrow when members adopt some sections of the standing orders as voting for either secret or open ballot system remains a nightmare.
It was decided thereafter that a special team be formed to see how better and amicable contentious issues, which have created emotional debate among members here during the discussions of the draft on standing orders, can be addressed to rescue the situation.
The move was announced by Kificho on Thursday night as members were seriously divided on a number of issues in the standing orders even before the submission of the draft constitution later next week.
“We are almost done on the draft on standing orders and let us give time for its committee to work on them and make final submission. But I have been advised that we need to form a team to pass through the ‘state of affairs’ before moving on,” he said.
He said it was suggested that there should be at least a week of a special seminar to clear the air and prepare members ahead of serious discussions of the constitutional draft soon later.
Issues that were hotly debated upon among members included whether voting modalities be by secret ballots or open one, agreeable quorum during the start of the sessions and passing of the resolutions as well as accommodation of alternative views before reaching consensus on various issues.
Already, emotions from some members are rising particularly on the application of ‘secret’ and ‘open ballots’ to pass sensitive sections of the proposed constitutional draft and sitting arrangement between members from Zanzibar and those of the Mainland.