Nyalali Commission recommends restoration of multi-party politics

Tuesday May 05 2020
nyalali pic

Dar es Salaam. Signs that Tanzania was heading to a new political system became evident in 1991 when former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi formed a commission to collect people’s views on the political system they wanted.

Headed by former Chief Justice Francis Nyalali, the commission travelled around the country and held meetings with institutions until December 11, 1991 when it handed over its first draft report to President Mwinyi.

The commission - popular as the ‘Nyalali Commission’ - proposed, among other things, reintroduction of multiparty politics and repeal of 40 laws which it termed ‘oppressive.’

This was despite the fact that 80 percent of Tanzanians who gave their views proposed that the country should retain the mono-party system, against 20 percent who were for change.

The commission handed over its final report to President Mwinyi on January 16, 1992. In this second and final draft, the commission also proposed transformation of the structure of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar into a federation of three governments.

The commission proposed as follows:


Multiparty system be reintroduced because, first: there was flimsy democracy in a mono-party political system. Second: there was a violation of the foundations and ethos of democracy in carrying out activities of the party and the government.Third: there were many flaws in the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and that of Zanzibar. So, Articles 30 and 10 of the 1977 Constitution - and Article 5 of the 1984 Zanzibar constitution - be struck off.”

On the issue of political parties and political education, the commission proposed special laws and regulations on the formulation and registration of political parties to maintain the peace, unity, serenity and harmony.”

It also recommended that, for a political party to be registered, it must be of national unity - and must have not less than 200 trustees in not less than 10 regions of Tanzania, whereby at least two of them must be of Zanzibar: one in Unguja and the other in Pemba.

The commission also proposed that the government should give subsidies to political parties with Members of Parliament and members of the House of Representatives or having obtained a certain percentage of all the votes cast in the immediate past polls.

It also recommended that all political parties should be given equal freedom and opportunities of expressing themselves in state-owned press agencies - and that, contrary to other institutions in the country, political parties should be registered by the Tanzania Electoral Commission.

Other proposals of the commission were to build a new political culture that would maintain the country’s peace and serenity in the competition of multiple political parties - and that political education, particularly about the Constitution of the United Republic and that of Zanzibar should be taught in all schools, colleges, institutions, universities and military forces.

On democracy and human rights, the commission proposed that the key foundations of democracy - meaning the Respect for the Rule of Law that was enforced by free Courts of Justice; Respect for Human Rights as enshrined in the regulations of the Declaration of the United Nations on Human Rights; free and fair elections; free dissemination of information through newspapers; free radio and TV stations - should be enshrined in the Constitution and given their due weight because they were the pillars of democracy.

The commission also proposed that the Constitution should be created in a way that - although it would protect the notation of ‘majority rule,’ at the same time it would protect the rights and interests of the minority in society.

For that reason, one of the proposals said: “...The Constitution should create the Position of Opposition Chief Whip in Parliament/House of Representatives...

“The permanent foundations of the Constitution and the national ethos should be clearly indicated in the Constitution. Such foundations and ethos should be separated from the manifesto of a political party,” the Nyalali Commission proposed.

The 705th proposal of the commission says: “Employees of public institutions should not be forced to be members of any political party.”

Soon after the CCM Chairman, President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, was presented with the report on December 11, 1991, in his new year speech he delivered on January 1, 1992, he directed that all national meetings of his party CCM be held within 48 days - including the party’s congress - so that the first report of the commission should be discussed.

His directive that came unexpectedly meant that debate on the report would be done by not following the calendar of meetings of the party.

The President directed the CCM Central Committee (CC) to meet on January 14, 1992 - soon after celebrations of the Zanzibar Revolution on January 12 - so as to have discussions and complete preparations for a meeting of the CC, which was held on January 17, 1992. The sitting was followed by the party’s special national meeting held on February 18.

“When the full report is ready, it will be tabled in the House of Representatives of Zanzibar in April, 1992,” said President Mwinyi.

Telling people that in the debate there were two sides - proponents of a multiparty system and proponents of one political party system - President Mwinyi said: “In such a situation, it is clear that a decision to be made in the sittings of the party will chime with one of the two sides.”

The head of State added: “...All of us will receive and agree with the proposals to be brought to us with open hearts by knowing that they are a result of democracy - and there is no doubt that they will base on the political situation of our country.”

On Friday, January 17, 1992, CCM’s NEC met in a special four-day meeting called by President Mwinyi to discuss the first report of the Nyalali Commission.

On the last day of the meeting held on January 20, NEC decided in unison that their resolution on the reintroduction of a multiparty system should be discussed by the party’s congress.

The NEC’s resolution stated as follows: “...As members of the National Executive Committee, we sat in Dodoma on January 17 to 20, 1992 by observing Article 74(3) of the Constitution of Chama Cha Mapinduzi and agreed with one accord to present a proposal given by the presidential commission to the party’s congress for deliberations for re-adoption of a multiparty system.”

Finally, the CCM congress was held on February 18, 1992 and accepted the CC’s proposal on re-adoption of a multiparty system in the country.

Among the top CCM leaders who attended the congress was Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, founder of Tanzanian nationalism.