A debate over the stalled new constitution agenda erupted yesterday between academics and politicians.
The former argued that the new constitution may not be a solution if those who are required to protect and implement it do not fulfil their responsibilities.
Discussing after the distinguished Nyerere Lecture presentation with the theme: ‘Liberating Democracy and Democratic Liberation’ by Prof Emeritus Issa Shivji of the University of Dar es Salaam, some politicians, however, believed that democracy and development should go hand in hand.
Speaking during his presentation, Prof Shivji outlined the relationship between democracy and development where he stressed that both are important but achieving them is a process that needs to be done all the time.
Citing the example of China, the scholar, who has been a lecturer at UDSM for more than 30 years, said while the country (China) set goals for the next 100 years, politicians from African countries, including Tanzania, were seriously focusing on the next election, so they set goals for five years.
However, after his presentation which lasted about an hour, a debate which was full of questions and comments on the topic kicked off and one of those who got a chance to ask questions was the opposition ACT-Wazalendo Party’s Secretary General, Mr Ado Shaibu.
Mr Shaibu said recently there erupted a perception that demand for democracy was delaying development and that demand for development should be given priority first before the new constitution agenda revival.
Recently, President Samia Suluhu Hassan said that public rallies by politicians, as well as the proposed new constitution agenda, will be revived – but only after the economy gets back to pre-Covid-19 growth momentum.
However, Mr Shaibu says “this has led to the decision to suspend democracy and the new constitution agenda to wait for the country’s economy to be strengthened first so that there is a solid foundation, what do you as a scholar think of this? Mr Shaibu asked.
Responding to the argument, Prof Shivji cited the speculation that says, “The new constitution is a remedy to the people’s problems,” saying that it was not always true.
He cited South Africa and Kenya as having the best constitutions in Africa,
“But look at the situation of these countries. Today South Africa is the most unequal country in the world despite having a very good constitution,” said Prof Shivji.
He noted that in recognition of this, during the process of a new constitution in Tanzania, he and his fellow scholars said they would not enter the process until a national debate was held.
“Citizens should be involved and talk about their problems and be told how the new constitution will help them,” he said, adding that “I do not want to say much more than that…”
The two-day Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Professorial Chair festival kicked off yesterday at UDSM main campus, bringing together scholars from all over the continent.
The two-day event will look at Pan-Africanism, national sovereignty, unity and democratic governance: Challenges of consolidating the African Polity.
Source: The Citizen