Mizengo Pinda: Legal system to accommodate Kadhi Courts

PRIME Minister Mizengo Pinda has said the government will review its decision to table a Bill to amend laws in order to accommodate Kadhi courts in the legal system.

This follows the tension that emerged during a seminar for the Members of Parliament here yesterday. However, Pinda insisted that the intention to amend laws in order to accommodate Kadhi courts in the legal system was made in good faith.

“After listening to the views of MPs and observed that the temperature was raising, we at government level felt it was important to bring common understanding among MPs and all citizens.

“We cannot ignore the concerns that have been raised by different groups including Muslims who oppose the Muslim Council, BAKWATA.

Fears of a section of Christians in regard to the formation of the Kadhi courts must be managed. “In this regard, the government will review its decision,” he said, when winding up after a heated debate.
The Premier said the government will take into account the recommendations of MPs and seriously address the matter and later consult Speaker, Anne Makinda and President Jakaya Kikwete as they seek to reconcile.

Earlier, Mr Pinda, who was the Chief Guest at the seminar for Members of the Parliament here yesterday on the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments), which contains sections of the Kadhi courts, once again dispelled fears among MPs that the courts would be instituted.

“I’m pleased that today we are getting important lessons on this issue because it is vital for all MPs to understand it well before the Bill is tabled for discussion this week,” he said.
Mr Pinda said after days of discussions with leaders of almost all major religions in the country, they had reached a common understanding on the issue.

He said the religious leaders had blessed the government’s move after the meetings that took place on February 3 and March 3 in Dar es Salaam.

The Premier told MPs that key areas of concern for those who opposed the Bill have been ironed out in the meetings. They include fears by some that the courts would be instituted and funded by the government, which is not going to be the case, according to him.

He said the government’s focus was legal recognition that would make proceedings and judgments of Kadhi courts lawful and binding.

Mr Pinda clarified that the jurisdiction of Sharia courts would be limited to matters like personal status, marriage, divorce and inheritance, and that it would serve only Muslims who would so wish voluntarily and not by force.

However, he said the government has no intention to include the Kadhi courts in the sections of proposed new constitution. Mr Pinda reminded the MPs to understand that the government will never depart from its philosophy of being a secular state and that it will never favour any religion at the expense of other believers.

Presenting his paper, Judge of the High Court, Robert Makaramba, insisted that Tanzania is secular state but said the government is formulating procedures under which, different religions are practised in the country.

He further said that Muslim laws are among sources of laws, which are recognized and provided for by the constitution. Others include English Common law and traditional law, adding that Muslim personal status laws are part of the country laws.

Attorney General (AG), Mr George Masaju said matters of the personal status in the Islamic laws are not part of the criminal laws that will continue to be handled by the jurisdiction according to the country’s constitution.

However, he said the Bill proposes that Chief Sheikh (Mufti) will prepare procedures in the running and supervision of the Kadhi courts and that the court will only be for Muslims and not non-Muslims.
“Even Muslim will be free to voluntarily seek the attention of the court... they have an option and it is not a must for them to be served by the court,” the AG said.

However, things didn’t seem to be that smooth in the seminar as several MPs differed on the matter, while some based their arguments on their religion lines.

It required frequent intervention from the Acting Chairman of the Constitution and Legal Affairs Committee, Mr William Ngeleja, Speaker of the National Assembly to calm them down and reminded them to consider the national interest, maintain peace and tranquility.

Several MPs wanted the Bill to be withdrawn, while others demanded it to be tabled for discussion as scheduled this week. On Friday, President Jakaya Kikwete ruled out the establishment of the Kadhi Court within the framework of the Judiciary, stating candidly that the matter will remain in the hands of religious bodies.

In a special gathering with city priests grouped in the Peace Committee of Religious Organisations, the president said that even if the Kadhi Court is introduced it will be under Muslim clerics and believers.

Meanwhile, the National Assembly resumes today with two Bills expected to be tabled for debate after the normal questions and answers session. They include The Youth Council of Tanzania Bill, 2015.

Source: Daily News
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