Dodoma. Another prominent CCM cadre, Mr Samwel Sitta, has declared his intention to vie for the country’s top job as the 2015 General Election nears. Mr Sitta, who is the Urambo East legislator, minister for East African Co-operation (EAC) and chairman of the Constituent Assembly (CA), told the Assembly yesterday that if the country needs a president with a clean leadership record, they should think of him.
His declaration brings to three the number of presidential contestants in the CCM fold. Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda and Deputy minister for Communications Science and Technology January Makamba have also set their sights on the top job.
But there is another list of CCM cadres whose names come up at the mention of the next poll. They include former Prime Ministers Edward Lowassa and Frederick Sumaye, minister of State-President’s Office (Social Relations and Coordination) Stephen Wassira and Sengerema MP William Ngeleja. Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Corporation Bernard Membe rounds off the list.
Mr Sitta made his intention known during the morning session of the CA, when committees were preparing to table their reports on the deliberations during their meetings at various venues.
According to him, some people have been testing him in an attempt to gauge whether he has what it takes to lead the country should he become the fifth president of the United Republic of Tanzania. Many Tanzanians, he added, were keeping an eye on what transpires in the CA, which he chairs.
“Others are claiming that this job as CA chairman demonstrates that I am not a good enough leader to become president of Tanzania,” he said. “I want to assure you all that I have not requested to be the Head of State but I am in this House as the Assembly chairman.”
He expressed hope that the people would be impressed by his wisdom and standing as one of the country’s elders who do not fear anyone. “If Tanzanians need a keen person and hardworking,” he added, “they should know that there are people like me who ought to be considered.”
Mr Sitta then took a swipe at a senior journalist, Mr Saed Kubenea, over his move to file petition in court to block the CA, adding that he was sure there was a group financing Mr Kubenea’s attempt to block the Katiba process.
He likened Mr Kubenea’s court jesters of the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries whose task was to keep their kings happy. “They were purposely employed to ensure that the kings were happy, at the same time ensuring that they dealt with those the kings believed to be their enemies.
On August 22, Mr Kubenea filed a petition at the High Court seeking an order to stop the CA sessions pending an interpretation of the assembly’s powers.
In a case he filed under certificate of urgency at the High Court through his lawyer, Mr Peter Kibatala, Mr Kubenea asked the court to clarify whether or not the CA has the mandate to overturn proposals in the second draft constitution presented by the Constitution Review Commission.
He also wanted the court’s interpretation of Sections 25 (1) and 25 (2) of the Constitutional Review Act No. 83 of 2011, which outline the powers of the CA.
The petitioner further sought a declaration on the proper interpretation of the provisions of Section 25 (1) and Section 25 (2) of the Constitutional Review Act and whether it has powers to significantly alter the contents of the second Draft Constitution as presented to it by the Constitutional Review Commission and, if so, to what extent.
Mr Kubenea’s move did not go down well with the CA chairman, who spent time discussing him in the Assembly at a time when tabling of committee reports was on the cards.
Mr Sitta said he was confident that the majority of Tanzanians were happy to see the Assembly continue even as the opposition stays away.
Various groups have repeatedly called for suspension of the CA, supposedly because it lacks political legitimacy since members of the Coalition of Defenders of People’s Constitution (Ukawa) walked out. Ukawa members stormed out of the Assembly citing indecent language in the assembly and so-called blatant disregard of public views presented in the second draft constitution.