Dodoma. A member of the dissolved Constitution Review Commission (CRC) Prof Mwesiga Baregu, has said the process that the government applied to dissolve the commission has left them feeling as if they are deserters.
In an exclusive interview with The Citizen, Prof Baregu, apart from explaining how they received the information on the dissolution of the commission, said it was former CRC chairman Judge (rtd) Joseph Warioba who was in a more pitiable situation.
“Some of us are somehow okay, but our Mzee (Warioba) is not, given his status as former prime minister, he is under constant protection by security personnel who take orders from the government, the very entity that has unceremoniously ended our job, the same way criminals are treated; I’m not sure what would be his end,” said Prof Baregu.
He explained that Wednesday last week, all members of the commission met and agreed to hand over the equipment on Friday of the same week. These assets included vehicles that were given to them by the government.
He said when he got into his car, the driver informed him that drivers had been instructed to send all the Commission’s vehicles to State House; that was how the car he was using was returned in the hands of the government.
Prof Baregu said the situation was worse for CRC members who were living in houses that were being paid for by the government, because they were instructed to vacate immediately as the rent was coming to an end on March 31 (last Monday).
“I can’t explain properly the kind of animosity that has developed between our side and the government. All this information came to us on the day we were there (at the commission’s premises),” Prof Baregu narrated.
According to him, by 1pm on the day they met, the secretary of the CRC’s secretariat had his powers to make purchases for the commission ended.
Even though he did not make it open, Prof Baregu sounded as if they had a plan of coming up with a joint statement over the new developments in relation to their work; but because of the situation facing their former chairman, they don’t think they will move ahead with the plan.
Prof Baregu’s comments come a day after State House issued a statement clarifying the legality behind government’s move to dissolve the CRC. The statement, signed by the Director of Presidential Communication, Mr Salva Rweyemamu, noted that Mr Warioba, the Commission and all Tanzanians knew the date when the CRC would be dissolved because it is stated in the Constitution Review Act.
According to Mr Rweyemamu, President Jakaya Kikwete had nothing to do with the lifespan of the CRC because he was not empowered to act against the law.
Reports that reached this paper about one of the dissolved CRC members, Mr John Nkolo, who suffered from stroke causing him to fail to communicate through speech, lost his mother on the day the Commission was dissolved.
The member and his family were among those who were living in apartments that were leased for CRC members by the government in the complex located close to State House in Dar es Salaam.
Prof Baregu said that he was not sure whether the member and his family were given any assistance, but given the way things were, his treatment was probably not dissimilar to what other members underwent.
The Commission’s Vice Chairman, Judge Augustino Ramadhani said he was not informed about Mr Nkolo, but he knew that he was sick and by the time the Commission was still in existence, the government shouldered his expenses.
He said that while his colleagues were meeting in Dar es Salaam, he was in Arusha when his driver informed him that he had been instructed to send the vehicle to the State House. He said that he allowed the driver to do so.
“I arrived in Dar es Salaam on Saturday at 5pm. The vehicle I was using was taken away while I was still in Arusha. From the time I came back, Iam using my own car,” explained Judge Ramadhani.
He said that he was not yet ready to discuss the CA inaugural speech by President Jakaya Kikwete, given the fact that he was yet to properly reflect on it.
For his part, the Commission’s secretary, Mr Kashmir Kyuki, told our sister paper ‘Mwananchi’ that they finalized handing over assets to the government Wednesday evening.
Mr Kyuki, who is also the government’s Chief Draftsman, said Mr Nkolo’s matter had been forwarded to the government via the permanent secretary of the Justice and Constitutional Affairs ministry.
“We informed them that we have an ailing member whom we have been caring for. He will continue to be taken care of in accordance with the laws and regulations governing public service because he suffered the ailment while still in government service. They will take care of him,” said Kyuki.
Mr Kyuki said the debts of the Commission have been handed over to the government through the Justice and Constitutional Affairs ministry. He said this so as to allay creditors’ fears.
Elaborations needed by the Constituent Assembly
Following members of the Constituent Assembly (CA) demanding professional interpretation of such terms as country, autonomous state, government, and federation, Prof Baregu said even though he has not been consulted, he will not be ready to cooperate once he is summoned.
“The way we were treated, just like deserters! How confident shall I be if I’m to be summoned to Dodoma? I’ve not been consulted, however, even if I were to, I would not go,” said Prof Baregu emphatically.
Prof Baregu said under the current circumstances, he is not sure that the provision included in the Constitution Review (Amendment) Act, 2013, that states that the chairman of the Constituent Assembly has powers to summon the chairman, secretary, or any member of the dissolved Constitution Review Commission to provide elaborations would be implemented.