Renowned scholar and Mwalimu Nyerere Chair in Pan-African Studies, Prof Issa Shivji, has said that what Tanzania needs is not a new constitution but a new Tanzania where people’s wishes are respected.
He said 80 per cent of the country’s population is ignorant of the Constitution itself therefore, talking about a new constitution is an exercise in futility.
He was speaking in Dar es Salaam at the Guy Mhone International Conference where he also pointed out that: “When you indulge a common man on discussing a new constitution and avoid matters pertaining to land, forest, mines, lakes and natural resources that is around them, they won’t understand you.”
Prof Shivji directed blame on African leaders who are bent on imitating things blindly without taking due consideration.
The Don giving an example said the 17trn/- stimulus package issued by the government during the global financial crisis as an intervention to bring things to order that did not have impact on the common man.
“That package did not stimulate anything. Instead it bailed out capable sectors in financial services. I wonder if the government had abolished subsidising agriculture and food to its people how on earth did it come up with the idea of the stimulus package,” the don queried.
The Guy Mhone conference is convened annually in the context of the global economic crisis to prompt a critical analysis of various aspects of socio-economic development in Africa, according to Shivji.
Under the theme; “The Renaissance of African Economies” the conference has brought African scholars in Dar es Salaam to take stock of the evolution of the continent’s economies over the past decade and to identify the trend for the years to come.
It has been organised in honour of one of Africa’s most distinguished development thinker, Prof Guy Mhone of Malawi.
Prof Shivji, however said: “Despite the steady economic growth registered, poverty is still prevalent in the country, the rate of illiteracy is the highest and youth employment is tending towards the extreme.”
For his part, Council for Development of Social Science Research executive secretary Ebrima Sall said there was no integration yet between African economies and that its development was very uneven.
He said the effects of these imbalances and the financial crisis were likely to be felt in the long run adding that there were disturbances that had immediate impacts on economies. “The crisis made Africa lose USD120bn in GDP and could only record a growth of 2.8 percent in 2009,” said Sall.
He added: “Africa can do much better, but to achieve this, it must mobilise more domestic resources to fund its development.”
Constitutional reforms have been a subject matter to many Tanzanians including leaders and other high-profile figures in the public and private sectors, pressure groups, political parties, religious leaders and the ordinary citizens.
Some have been calling for a complete overhaul of the current (1977) Constitution, while others seek minimal changes within the existing fundamental laws.
Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said he will advise President Jakaya Kikwete to appoint a team to look into modalities of preparing a new constitution for the country.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN