Katiba - is the constitution relevant to people's lives?

Tanzania is currently re-writing its constitution, a document that influences people’s lives across the country. Yet, according to a Sauti za Wananchi survey in early 2014, only 3% of the Tanzanian population had read the second draft of the constitution, or part of it. Some reasons for this may be that the language is difficult to comprehend, that the second draft hasn’t been widely accessible, or that core issues affecting people’s daily lives have not been fully explored.

Twaweza has worked with the Legal and Human Rights Centre to produce three cartoon booklets telling stories relevant to the writing of the new Constitution from a citizen perspective. The goal has been to foster deeper consideration across a broad range of stakeholders, from citizens to authorities, on how the constitution is a people's document.

The booklets are designed to address key issues of access to justice, land, and health that are overlooked in popular media about the constitution.

The first booklet is a story about mob justice, a common occurrence in Tanzania during instances of theft. It highlights the ways in which mob justice harms society, and what the benefits of a Government-lead policing service has.

The second booklet focuses on access to health services. Particularly, it addresses the need for clinics to be within manageable distances for people and to be prepared for emergencies.

The third booklet focuses on land evictions. It signals the need for clear communication with citizens when land is being sold, built upon or procured by authorities. It also calls for citizens to observe procedures when filing complaints so that queries addressed properly.

The three booklets produced have gone through a rigorous production process. Twaweza and LHRC originally considered producing three booklets and three complementing leaflets, which would outline specific passages in the constitution draft that needed to be understood by citizens. However, upon deeper collective reflection, we found that text-heavy versions would be difficult to read.

A total of 1.5 million booklets (500,000 of each story) will be distributed via LHRC's legal monitors and paralegals across Tanzania, in hopes that the stories will benefit citizens in understanding the importance of a constitution.

LHRC is a non-profit organization based in Dar-es-Salaam.

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Authors: Al-Amin Kheraj



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