THERE was no shortage of more drama as members of the Constituent Assembly continued to differ on the open and secret ballot system.
The assembly’s Chairperson, Mr Pandu Ameir Kificho, had to adjourn the morning session for some hours to allow members to prepare and submit their last written proposals to the revised standing orders.
Some members, however, opposed the adjournment, describing it as “unnecessary wastage of time’’.
Mr Kificho urged members to deliberate whether votes should be on open or secret ballot system as proposed by the committee on standing orders.
Last Friday, the Chairperson of the Committee on Standing Orders Professor Costa Mahalu, told members that his committee had initially failed to decide on the secret and open voting system.
Prof Mahalu had told members that after considering the complexity of the system and, even if his committee had earlier proposed for the secret voting system, it has arrived to the option for CA members to handle the matter and decide on the ideal system.
But in what many members here described as a surprise move, the revised copy didn’t mention anything about members voting for the option any more.
Instead, the interim chairperson said it has been agreed that written proposals on the revised standing orders should be used to determine the matter after members have submitted them later in the evening.
“The system as proposed by the committee will still be used but this should be done after we have submitted written views on the revised copy of the standing orders.
Then anyone with objection on any specific section will then raise it,” said Mr Kificho. Dr Francis Michael suggested that since Prof Mahalu’s committee had decided that members will handle the matter, it was better that voting on the secret or open casting system should be done first.
He was supported by Engineer Stella Manyanya and Mr Peter Serukamba who said the Standing Orders Committee was supposed to put things straight in the revised paper instead of coming with contradictions.
Eng. Manyanya expressed doubt why the committee’s report came with different sentiments from the one proposed last Friday, questioning its credibility.
Prof Ibrahim Lipumba said as he tried to rescue the situation that it was important to have regulations that are credible for the sake of smooth transition into having new constitution. He insisted that secret voting must be one of the pillars to that end.
A number of members however, supported the move for members to submit written views where open or secret voting system will be handled accordingly. Commenting on the state of affairs shortly after the session, Prof Jumanne Maghembe said the friction on the matter “is just a warm up before the actual game’’.
“This is just a start of how things are supposed to be before coming to mutual understanding and agreements on these sensitive issues…we are just sizing each other up,” he remarked.
Mr Modestus Kilufi said everything on the revised edition of the standing order was well understood but somehow patients and wisdom among some members was a problem cautioning members needed to read the documents carefully and remain patient.
Attorney General Justice Frederick Warema declined to comment when approached. He simply said: “Sorry, I am on other issues, I just can’t comment now.”
In its revised report on standing orders, the 20-member team came with a suggestion that the secret voting should remain, where members will have to cast ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when moving sections after sections on the constitutional draft.
The secret votes cast will be carefully counted in front of special agents selected to supervise the exercise before the chairperson announces the results.