Tuesday, 15 April 2014
MAHMOUD THABIT KOMBO NA VITA KAWAWA KULINDA CHAMA CHA BABA !
You may argue differently but the truth remains that Zanzibaris who seek full autonomy in the Isles yesterday made their stand known in the Constituent Assembly. Though he spoke as a representative for the minority group in Committee Number 11, Zanzibar’s Minister for Health Juma Duni Haji ’s defence for a three-tier government reflects what many people in the Isles, especially those opposing the position of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), think about the union. In a vehement rejoinder, Haji dismissed the argument by the majority that costs and the inability of Zanzibar to contribute to the Union budget were the bases of rejecting three-government structure as proposed in the draft constitution. The minorities maintained that Zanzibar was capable of contributing to the Union budget – its small population regardless!
However, he said that the proposed three-government structure would not break the Union – which could only be dissolved if the two-thirds of the people from the mainland agree on such dissolution with another two-thirds of people from Zanzibar.Speaking soon after Committee Number 11 Chairperson Anne Kilango Malecela had tabled the committee’s report, the minority speaker, Juma Duni Haji, said the Isles’ contribution to the Union budget was quite significant. He noted that in 1964 Zanzibar was home to 300,000 people, while 12 million lived in Tanganyika; today, the population of Zanzibar has grown to 1.3 million while Tanganyika stands at 43m -- adding that like the population the contribution of the two parties to the Union would also differ.
Comparing the statistics by the Constitution Review Commission, which indicated that Tanganyika per capita income in 1999 was 193.45/- which grew to 247 .45/- in 2004 – according to findings by Prof Ibrahim Lipumba in 2011 -- that of Zanzibar stood at 919/- . At the time, Tanganyika’s per capita income was 859/-, and that basing on those figures the level of poverty and income between the two parties of the Union were equal.
On revenue collection, Haji cited 2005 statistics in which Tanganyika raked in 7.2trn/- while in Zanzibar the figure was 220b/-, noting that when the revenue of each country was divided with its respective population the per capital income was the same. “Based on all these figures of per capita income and poverty levels, it is baseless to say that Zanzibar cannot contribute to the union budget,” Haji argued. He further claimed that the current expenditure of the Union government did not exceed 35 per cent of the Union revenue, so more than 60 percent of the revenue was spent on non-Union matters -- amajor complaint by people in Zanzibar. The expenditure of Tanganyika is less than 70 percent of the Union, so the cost and the inability of Zanzibar to contribute to the Union budget wasn’t a factor for rejecting the proposed three-government structure.
He said that current laws bar Zanzibar from setting up a central bank, have its own currency, oversee fiscal laws and regulation or even seek financial aid unless it is allowed by the Union government. “This is a real thorn to the Zanzibaris … while we thought that the Union could address all these … nothing has happened,’ he said. On arguments that three governments would weaken the Union government financially and add administrative costs, he said Parliament and House of Representatives now had 438 members, but with three governments the number would come down to 314. “This means we’ll have 114 less MPs … thus reducing the cost of running our affairs,” he argued. On articles of the Union, Haji said members need to be given certified copies before they start working on the draft constitution. “… the Articles of the Union are crucial documents for the members who are writing the constitution which will be used by the coming generation,” he said. He claimed that absence of the certified articles of the Union had created doubts among CA members that some issues could have been omitted.
The current constitution provides that the Union could be dissolved if both sides of the Union agreed to break it.
Presenting views of the majority, Anne Kilango Malecela said the Union Charter proposes a two- government structure, so the three-tier government was against the Union agreement. She said the challenges facing the two -government structure could be addressed, but argued that the three-tier structure could cause more problems.
Malecela said the CRC recommendation for a three- government could address the current political challenges but could also generate economic challenges that may affect the lives of many Tanzanians. Later in the evening, James Mbatia who presented the minority views of Committee Number 12 warned CA members from using the statistics by the Constitutional Review Commission to mislead the public. According to the CRC statistics, 351,664 people aired their views and 60,968 gave views on the Union. The statistics indicate that those who spoke on the Union structure were 47,820 , out of whom 17,785 rooted for the three-government structure.
Mbatia noted that the statistics given to President Jakaya Kikwete when inaugurating the Constituent Assembly were misleading. “The president was given wrong statistics when he addressed the CA,” he insisted. On votes cast to approve the sections of Chapters One and Six of the draft constitution, Mbatia said his Committee could not get two-thirds from Zanzibar on sections one, three and nine of chapter one and sections 62 and 68 of chapter six while in the Mainland sections one, four, eight, nine of chapter one and 63, 65, 67, and 68 of chapter six couldn’t raise the required two-thirds as well. ‘The statistics presented by committee Number 12 vice-chairperson Tuwayba Kisasi were incorrect,” he said. Mbatia said according to section 34 (1) of the current constitution, there shall be a Government of the United Republic which shall have authority over all Union Matters in the United Republic and over all other matters concerning Mainland Tanzania while section 64 (1) state that the Legislative power in relation to all Union Matters and also in relation to all other matters concerning Mainland Tanzania is vested in Parliament. “If these sections recognize the Union … why is it being rejected now,” Mbatia queried. He said it was “a shame” to accuse CRC chairman Joseph Warioba because the views contained in the draft were people’s views … not his.