Tanzania: Will the new constitution meet the expectations of the people?
By Elias Mhegera – The ongoing process of formulating a new constitution under retired judge and Premier Joseph Warioba has met strong criticism even before the work has reached its final stage.
Recently Jukwaa la Katiba which is an independent constitution forum made by the civil society, convened yet another meeting at the Ubungo Plaza, in Dar-es-Salaam in order to give people a space to review the process.
One of the most challenging issues is the Union matter, namely that of Tanzania Mainland formerly Tanganyika, and the archipelago isles of Zanzibar. The Chairman of Jukwaa la Katiba, Deus Kibamba has spoken on this matter in various occasions but it seems his voice is not getting a due attention.
A strong wave of calls for a new constitution in Tanzania took a dramatic turn immediately after the 2010 General Election after the main opposition party Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) simply meaning a party of democracy and development which claimed that election results were rigged in favour of the incumbent ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), simply meaning a revolutionary party.
Apart from a series of complains from the Zanzibar side of the Union dubbed as ‘kero za muungano’, reformists see a lot of loopholes in the existing constitution which in so many ways have helped the CCM to remain in power for over 50 years now though with different names from Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) 1961-77, and now CCM from 1977.
The main issues in debates are non existence of independent candidates, and the excessive power embedded within the president which somehow has helped the CCM to remain firmly entrenched within the State House.
The president appoints at his own leisure a good number of senior government official a situation that has allowed nepotism, patronage and undue acquiescence in favour of the status quo in this list are the chief justice, the attorney general, the chairman of the electoral commission and the inspector general of police.
This is not to forget the director general of the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service (TISS), the governor of the Central Bank of Tanzania and even the chairman of the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
Many of the above mentioned institutions have been implicated in violating the constitution and unethically assisting the CCM to win during general elections.
Although this trend has been going on for quite some time but the most vivid example was how the incumbent president Jakaya Kikwete and his entire campaign team were implicated in a Bank of Tanzania (BoT), mega financial scam.
It is claimed that various companies were formed and they later looted from the External Payment Arrears (EPA) account of the BoT billions of Tanzanian shillings which were used to fund the CCM campaigns and bribe voters in the 2005 General Elections.
In the 2010 Tanzania General Elections it is again claimed that the TISS was fully involved in rigging elections, an independent investigative news paper Mwanahalisi which had a series of coverage on how this sensitive department was implicated in the violation of democratic principles was banned indefinitely in August this year. These and many other causes of dissatisfaction led to the wide cry for a new constitution immediately after the mentioned election of 2010.
Contributing on the weakness of the Warioba Constitutional Commission, Prof. Sheriff Abdul, emeritus professor in history and originating from the Isles during the recent debate said that the problem is there from the outset, since the proper process could have started with the election or appointment of the special Constitutional Parliament.
He was surprised that there are intimidations against members and citizen in general who wanted the form of the Union to be changed or discussed.
Recently some members in Zanzibar had suggested that the nature of the union be changed into three governments in order to have the isles Government, the mainland Tanzanian Government and the Union one.
He suggested that there was a need to have national censuses of what should constitute of the new constitution rather than one side to be dominant.
‘if the new Constituion will not be accepted by the people it will not be their fault because there was no consensus as to whether all Tanzanians wanted to have a new constitution.
He said that it was strange to find that people were told that they should not discuss some of the issues while discussing the constitution matter.
The main problems
He cited the main problems as being the nature of the Union itself, this is because Zanzibar had a vision of forming the East African Federation, but in 1964 there was a Zanzibar revolution which subsequently led to the formation of the Union Government.
He said it was strange to say that costs of running the Union Government were counted as being an obstacle towards the Union. Instead he reminds that so far more than 40 committees have been formed in order to react on complains from both sides known as ‘kero za Mungano’.
Prof Sheriff says, under the current structure the vice president is functionless, and that changes were amended in order to escape the possibility of the opposition party producing a president.
He added that so many changes have always been amended in order to reflect political developments in Zanzibar.
He challenged that the High Court is not a Union matter and that for those who challenges the sovereignty of Zanzibar should also tell whether it is a district or region for that matter. He suggested that people should be allowed to contribute ideas on the nature of a Union that they want.
Gender Issues in the new constitution
Another issue which drew a considerable attention was gender issues. Presenting her paper was the Executive Director of the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme, Ms Usu Mallya who said women in Tanzania are neglected although they constitute about 51 percent of the whole population
She said that women are at a disadvantage when it comes to ownership of all kind of properties, they are sidelined in the decision making process in their homes and offices in comparison to their male counterparts.
“Women in Tanzania are mostly subjected to all kind of nasty jobs, it is in records that 60 percent of Tanzanian women are married before they attain 18 years, and these is a big challenge,” she commented.
She therefore concluded that with this kind of a situation it will be very difficult to revamp this country from abject poverty. She added that 31.4 of women are employed in semiskilled jobs and a good number of them are employed in a non formal sector.
Mallya said that 30 percent women attain tertiary education in Tanzania while only 10 percent are either full or associate professors.
She expanded that more women perishes due to HIV/Aids , while 15 percent of them are victims of FGM.
What should be done?
Mallya suggested that the new constitution must mention that ownership of property is by both sexes and that there must be equal rights in the economic opportunities and in dealing with probate cases in the court of law.
She called for the new constitution to think of improvements that will reduce a burden to women in the following main issues; availability of water, land, food and health services. “There must be a 50/50 percentage in the decision making process,” she retorted.
In general she summed up by saying that the new constitution must stipulate that there will be zero tolerance against gender discrimination
Contributions from the floor
Contributions from the floor were centred on various rights where each individual group came up with suggestions of what should appear in the new constitution.
Namely; that pastoralists must be given due recognition in the new document, and that education of counselors should be above ‘O’ level secondary education i.e. form one to four, because a good number of them lack formal education and they are subjected to cheating from the other municipal functionaries
It was advised that the constitution must speak of voter’s right; because some women are forced by their male to vote to candidates of their spouse’s preference. Moreover it was claimed that bribes are still provided in various forms during elections including sexual favours and money.
Peasants said that they need the rights of peasants in ownership of land to be stipulated in the new constitution
A representative of co-operative unions said that they have been suppressed for a number of years after finding that they were forming an invisible political force.
But the disabled through one Abdulrahman Lugone called for the government to take initiatives to defend the rights of disabled people. He said that accidents have now become a major source of disability in Tanzania.
He condemned a bad habit of segregating persons with disability in many events, including translators for the dumb people; they say this should be a component in the new constitution.
Disabled people should be represented in the government decision making process. The constitution must mention that persons with disability should access all services equally.
Gratian Mkoba chairman of the Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU), said the government lacks seriousness because in this country teachers are employed by five different authorities, he suggested that in order to reduce commotions they should belong to one ministry.
“In Kenya all teachers are employed by the Teachers Services Commission (TSC) in Tanzania some with Ministry of Education, others with the local government authorities, this is very confusing, he lamented.
Ms Martina Kabisama said that her network SAHRNGON is still collecting views that will be incorporated in the formulation in the new constitution.
She was concerned that although Tanzania is a signatory to many human rights agreement but there something lacking in the implementation process. She said that the functions and working of the Commission for Humna Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG), must be made clear.
“Ethics Commission and the Judiciary should work transparently. Matters of security and the functioning of the Electoral Commission, Independent candidates must be allowed, avoiding them is a gross violation of human rights,” she commented.
She also warned that appointments of some sensitive posts like the director general of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption of Bureau (PCCB), must be made through a transparent process. She also called for the abolition of the death penalty.
Anthony Komu on behalf of the Tanzania Centre for Democracy said that there are serious problems in getting leaders particularly the president. He said currently one could become Tanzania’s president after getting simple majority vote.
He suggested that the new constitution must stipulate how the citizenry can benefit from their resources. Moreover the separation of powers must be delineated clearly.
Godfrey Kunambi Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), lawyer said that his party holds the following estates judiciary, parliament and executive, his party will remain secular or non sectarian and that the Government will continue to hold natural resources.
This stance from a representative of a ruling party did not augur well in the hall where a good number of attendees were youngsters who have turned out to dislike the CCM so much.
Musa Kombo Musa from the Isles complained that as long as Zanzibarians have their own constitution it was proper that mainlanders also seek for their own before the formulation of a new Union constitution.