Dar es Salaam. Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation minister Prof Palamagamba Kabudi yesterday wade into the presidential term limit debate, saying the government will not allow any attempt to alter constitutional arrangements on head of state’s office term.
Speaking at a symposium to commemorate the life of Tanzania’s Founding President Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Prof Kabudi said attempts to challenge the constitutional presidential term limit were not based on national interest.
“The government will not allow that to happen,” he said.
Prof Kabudi’s stance comes amid spontaneous calls from some quarters for constitutional change to allow President John Magufuli to lead the country beyond the limit set by the constitution.
Those in favour of the alterations argue that President Magufuli has led major transformation in the country in the past four years that he should be given more time to take Tanzania to the next level.
The latest push for scrapping presidential term limit was made in August after a Dar es Salaam resident Dezydelius Mgoya filed a constitution petition in the High Court in which he has sought a declaration that provisions of the constitution setting presidential term limit were unconstitutional.
Expounding on how President Magufuli’s administration is committed to honouring principles laid down by Mwalimu Nyerere, Prof Kabudi said: “Mwalimu had no grudges against the issue [of term limit] for he considered it one among the foundations that keep the nation and its people united. He accepted it without compulsion. And it’s because of that same reason that this government will not allow anyone to change that [constitutional arrangement].”
Prof Kabudi’s attempt to clarify the government’s position also comes a few days after President Magufuli publicly expressed his uncertainty whether the various development projects he has initiated will be carried on after he leaves office, saying the question sometimes made him think of extend his term.
He has however in various occasions ruled out staying on power beyond the time limit set in the constitution.
“The government is committed to upholding supremacy of the constitution and for all purposes and intents people should not confuse the decision of one person as a secret plot by the seating Head of State. We will continue to preserve this constitutional demand for that is one of our national treasure that we all have to be proud of,” said the minister.
Participants of the symposium urged on the consistency in honouring of Mwalimu Nyerere’s ideas. They said honouring Nyerere’s ideas should not be selective but rather a holistic process to include even those ideas that may sound troubling to those in power as well as those who seek to replace them.
Many participants expressed their belief that issues of peace and unity which Nyerere sacrificed his entire life advocating for, remained important pillars of Tanzania’s road to success, both politically and economically.
“When these two things remain highly protected, Tanzania will no doubt achieve its national aspirations,” said Prof Rwekaza Mukandala, former UDSM Vice-Chancellor, in his welcoming remarks.
Prof William Anangisye, UDSM’s Vice-Chancellor, said the yearly organising of the commemoration was the contribution that the university makes not only to honour the life of Mwalimu as an individual person but also his ideas that are so important to nurture if Tanzania is to make any sustainable strides in fighting against disease, ignorance and poverty.
“The principles of unity, self-reliance, freedom and equality is important now than they have ever been and it’s our role as a university to make sure that their importance is realised for the bigger interests of our nation,” he said.