Shivji calls for new constitution to iron out union discrepancies

Prof. Issa Shivji

PROFESSOR Issa Shivji, a renown academician, on Saturday added his voice to the call for a new constitution, saying both the Union and Zanzibar needed a reviewed or new constitution that would definitely clear doubts on many issues, that have emerged in the multiparty democracy.

“I strongly support Government of National Unity (GNU) in Zanzibar as an appropriate measure to end the historical political conflicts in the islands. However, there are concerns, which should be resolved, on legal process to GNU,” Prof Shivji said at a workshop on GNU to commemorate the late Professor Haroub Miraji Othman.

Prof Othman was one of the academicians from the University of Dar es Salaam who joined the late Mwalimu Nyerere to propose a GNU for Zanzibar after the first multi-party disputed general elections in 1995 in efforts to solve conflicts on the islands.

Zanzibar Legal Services Centre (ZLSC) chairman, Professor Chris Peter said the workshop held at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA), attracting different groups of people including politicians, students, members from Prof Othman’s family, and lawyers, was organized to commend the late professor for his commitment to advocate for GNU to success.

“We need to review the referendum law, and the structure of the GNU for a sustainable, smooth democracy,” Prof Shivji said, adding that he was also concerned about power sharing in the Zanzibar GNU and lack of official opposition in the House. He warned that there was a risk of constitutional crisis if the referendum law remained un-reviewed.

Prof Shivji said, “What we have in Zanzibar now is position sharing, and arguably the opposition no longer exists. The House regulations should also be reviewed because the existing ones were meant to accommodate opposition.”

He also backed his call for constitutions (Zanzibar and Union) review by citing some sections such as 132, and 64 which empowers the union parliament to approve laws that can be applied in Zanzibar without Zanzibar House consent.

The State Minister – First Vice- President’s Office, Ms Fatma Abdulhabib Fereji, and the union government deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Mahadhi Juma Maalim, were of the view that Zanzibar GNU was a good start, “and that there was sharing of power, and the room to emerge constitutional crisis are small.”

In his brief remarks to officiate at the opening of the workshop, the Zanzibar Second Vice-President, Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi, said that the late Professor Othman was a hardworking man and he was committed to see Zanzibar move forward.

“GNU is for all Zanzibaris, and I call upon ministers from both parties (CCM and CUF) in the government to work hard for the national interest to meet the expectation of the majority,” Ambassador Iddi said.

He added that determination, tolerance, forgiveness, and good governance should prevail in the GNU.

From ISSA YUSSUF in Zanzibar, 4th December 2010 for DAILY NEWS

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