Mgoya, the man seeking removal of Presidential term limits in Tanzania

Patrick Dezydelius Mgoya

Dar es Salaam. Patrick Dezydelius Mgoya has drawn the most online buzz this week, a man who has dared to cross what was once thought to be the forbidden line.

Whereas there those who have in the past mused about lifting the Presidential term  limit in Tanzania, Mgoya has acted by filing  constitutional case with the High Court, questioning the legality of the presidential term limit in.

 His decision is one that has polarised opinion in many circles with many questioning the timing and the motive of his petition.

The 41-year-old who is married with three children is former pastor at Full Gospel Church in Dar es Salaam which is owned by Bishop Zacharia Kakobe and has never been in government employment.

In 2011, after differences which are yet to be resolved with Bishop Kakobe whom he had worked with for six years he gave up his pastoral duties to concentrate on farming.

He is now a dedicated farmer who grows vegetables and also practices aquaculture in Bagamoyo.

This was the first time that Mr Mgoya was filing such a case something that was once a preserve of the politicians and high profile lawyers.

At the High Court, he was tasked with presenting additional documents to validate his case on Monday but he could not make it in time. 

The self-proclaimed farmer who lives in Mbezi Beach, Dar es Salaam on Monday arrived at the High Court buildings in Dar es Salaam at 2:00 pm riding on a motorcycle taxi -boda boda after the daladala he was in got stuck in jam.

On an ordinary day Mgoya would have been at his farm in Bagamoyo , Coast Region where he tends to his crops and fish.

The farmer has filed the case under Section 4 of the Basic Rights and Duties Enforcement Act of 1994 in line with the Article 30 (3) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977.  The respondent in the case is the Attorney General (AG).

Conscious of the opinion of some sceptics, Mr Mgoya says that he filed the case out personal motives after reading the Constitution of the Unite Republic of Tanzania and found out that it was violating some of the basic human rights.

“I’m not a politician,” he calmly pointed out in an exclusive interview after alighting from the boda boda and found that he was late present his additional documents.

“I have never possessed a membership card of any political party neither am I an activist,” he says.

Mr Mgoya understands says that his decision to challenge the Constitution doesn’t target any particular person.

He says his decision is purely motivated on his duties as a good citizen of this country.

“Even the fourth-phase president [Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete] was supposed to extend his term telling from the reception by lawmakers when he attended the swearing-in of his wife,” he explains.

He adds: I have come to realize that people are being denied their fundamental constitutional rights as Tanzanians, that’s the main force behind my decision.

This is why he is questioning the legality of Article 40 (2) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania which provides for a term limit for one to occupy the office of the President of the United Republic.

Mr Mgoya has therefore asked the court to issue a declaration and an accurate interpretation and outline the impact of Article 40 (2) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Mr Mgoya’s case comes at a time when President John Magufuli has, on several occasions, said that he was not interested in extending his presidential terms for even five minutes.

He was forced to do so following opinions in some quarters that the Constitution be amended to allow an extension of his term in office.

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In April this year (2019) again President Magufuli reiterated his position against extending his rule beyond the constitutional limit, saying: “My position as president is temporary and once my tenure ends, I will leave on the very same day.”  

Additional reporting by Fortune Francis