Indigenous communities seek voice in New Constitution
07 August 2012, The Arusha Times
The Constitutional Review Commission which has just ended seeking the view of people in Manyara region was told that there was a great need for the minorities to be heard in the national political platforms.
One of the groups calling for greater voice in the national affairs is the Hadzabe hunter-gatherer tribe which insists the proposed mother law for the country should not give room to any form of marginalisation to other minorities.
They told members of the Commission at Yaeda Chini village in Mbulu district that the new Constitution should 'recognise' them, a euphemism used by such groups to ensure they are streamlined in the
national development agenda.
They said being a minority they could be easily marginalised as has been the case in the past since the current Constitution of the country has been quiet on the welfare of the minority groups.
The new Constitution should also ensure their rights and culture were protected, they argued during a series of meetings which have been taking place in various villages in the vast Manyara region to collect
views of the people.
The Hadzabe, who survive mainly on hunting wild animals, gathering fruits and wild tubers, are believed to be the last remnants of the Stone Age people in Tanzania.
They live in the remote jungle around Lake Eyasi basin which cover parts of Karatu,extends to Karatu, Mbulu, Iramba and Meatu districts.Their population is estimated to be about 2,500.
Those who spoke to the members of the Commission, which ended its work in Manyara region on Saturday, that under the proposed Constitution there should be representatives of the minority groups in the Parliament.
"Ours is a small tribe relying on hunting, collecting wild fruits and tubers and honey from the forest. The new Constitution should not by-pass. It should ensure our survival in the coming generations",
They claimed that it was unfortunate they had been 'ignored' by some government authorities because of the mode of the lives and wanted the new mother law to ensure they are given enough platform to air their views.
Names of those who spoke during the public meetings could not be obtained but one of them was heard saying: "We are much concerned on our basic rights. Even President Kikwete is aware of this".
They suggested that deliberate measures be taken by the government to address a host of problems facing the community, including food shortage, encroachment of the ancestral lands by 'outsiders" as a
threat of becoming culturally extinct.
However, the Mbulu district commissioner Anatoly Choya decried that many indigenous communities have often aired the views of non-governmental organisations operating in Manyara region and not
He called on residents of the district to give out their views on what the new Constitution should contain and not replicated the often- aired views of the NGOs which, according to him, have their own agenda.
As the Constitution Review team completed its work in Manyara, members of the Commission said there was a great need to sensitize the public on the constitutional review process.
A member of the team Mr. Omar Sheha said many flaws have been identified while collecting the views of people in Manyara region. These, he said, include lack of awareness of people on the process.