By Gambian Outsider!
The Voice Of One Crying In The Wilderness!
This is part one of a series of articles I intend to write regarding the “Draft Constitution.” Instead of diving into the meat of that document, I am gong to lay the background from which all the other articles I intend to write, time permitting, have their foundation. Below you will find emails I sent to the CRC chairperson. In the emails I raised certain questions that I believed, when answered properly, would lead to have a clear vision concerning the drafting of a new constitution. The questions I raised where never answered. In other words, the CRC was non-responsive to my questions. By non-responsive in legal speak, it is meant that no direct answer is given to a question asked. So far, majority of the commentary made about the “Draft Constitution” in inaccurate and misleading. Personally, it will take me at minimum six months to go over the “Draft Constitution” line by line to see how it all fit together. The Draft Constitution is a paper dump and there is only one month to review it. Why the rush? What is so important that this thing is being jammed through out throats? If more time is needed, so be it because it is that important. Since the day the draft constitution has been released, I have spent the first couple of days just studying the “Table of Content.” There is much that can be learned from that. I wonder how many of the commentators have actually studied the Table of Content of the draft constitution. I also wonder how many Gambians have read and understood the 1997 constitution before jumping to this new draft constitution. And that include members of the CRC. How many members of the CRC actually know what a constitution is? I have cut off the name and email address of the person I communicated with because I am not trying to put anyone on the spot. Please see if the questions I asked have been answered or better, if you know the answers to those questions. We need to get serious about our country instead of playing lip-service.
A Few Questions put to the CRC!
Wed, Aug 8, 2018, 2:09 PM
August 8, 2018
I am a concerned Gambian. I have read almost all your postings in which you try to update the general public about the workings of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC). I expected you to bring up certain fundamental questions about the constitution and constitutionality and answer them to set the stage for the work that your commission is to do. However, those questions have not been raised, at least not publicly, and hence, I am not sure if such questions came up at all. Before I ask my questions, I would like to say that, who I am or my identity does not matter. What matters is that I am a Gambian and a concerned one at that. I am writing to you privately because I am not seeking any attention. Here are some of my questions. I hope you can help me with the answers. I believe you will agree that the questions are not difficult to answer:
(1) What is the fundamental flaw in The Gambia Constitution? (I did not say flaws, but “The flaw”);
(2) What is the significance of a Constitution to a Republic?
(3) How can The Gambia Constitution be described?
(4) What is meant when it is said that a “holistic” approach will be employed to change the Constitution of The Gambia?
(5) Does Gambia have a Republican form of government or a Parliamentary Democracy?
Answering these questions is important because it will help the CRC and Gambians, like myself know what needs to be done, if any, about the constitution and how it ought to be done.
CRC’S Reply to my email: On Mon, Aug 20, 2018 at 8:08 PM wrote:
Dear Brother Samba
Many thanks for initiating this dialogue with the CRC which is deeply appreciated. I take note of the matters you’ve raised and believe that active engagement by Gambians and other stakeholders will assist immensely in the development of a new Constitution for The Gambia.
The CRC is in the process of finalizing its relevant instruments to guide its work and better engage with all Gambians, both at home and abroad. The CRC will identify specific issues on which it expects the expression of public opinion; this is in addition to Gambians and other stakeholders raising new matters on their own for the consideration of the CRC. The role of the CRC may essentially be described as one to lead and encourage active public participation in order to better guide the CRC in discharging its mandate.
The CRC, working with its partners, expects to shortly commence civic education on constitutionalism in order to better prepare Gambians to actively participate in the constitution-making process. The important questions you posed will be considered as part of the civic education programme and shared with the general public. I hope, therefore, that you will understand and appreciate the CRC’s approach in order to be able to better mange the many issues and questions being addressed to it.
I certainly look forward to your engagement and active participation during the public consultation process. I trust that you will also serve as an ambassador in rallying Gambians around you to become equal active participants in the development and shaping of their new Constitution.
We hope to develop a mailing list and trust that you do not mind being placed on that list. We also are working to develop the CRC website which should enable you to follow the CRC activities online.
Please accept my best wishes.
My Reply to the CRC:
Aug 22, 2018, 11:10 AM
Thank you very much for your email. I very much appreciate it. I look forward to reading and hearing the work of the CRC on this very important undertaking. Some people I know including myself, believe that Gambians needs to be and must be engaged in this very very important undertaking. I sent you those questions because I believe it is important for majority of Gambians who have never read the present constitution or have read it, but do not fully understand what is involved in it to have some knowledge about it so that when the actual drafting and debating of proposed provisions begins, they will not be left in the dark. If you follow the online newspapers and some of the newspapers in The Gambia, you will notice that certain terms are being thrown around which do not apply to the current constitution of The Gambia. I personally believe, CRC must tell Gambians the following:
(1) What is wrong with the constitution as it is?
(2) What type of constitution does The Gambia have?
(4) What is a constitution supposed to do and why?
(5) Is the present constitution being completely overhauled or only some parts of it?
(6) What method is going to be used to draft, debate, and rewrite the proposed and approved changes?
(7) How are Gambians at home and abroad going to be engaged in the process?
As I indicated in my last email, I do not belong to any group or society, old or new. I am not interested to be known. I will remain anonymous. All I wish for is to see a Gambian constitution that reflects democratic values and Gambians values. Thank you Sir, and have a blessed day.