New Constitution: Where is the starting point?

Saturday June 25 2022
Katiba pic

President Jakaya Kikwete and his Zanzibari counterpart Ali Mohamed Shein prepare to unwrap copies of the Draft Constitution presented to them by the Warioba Constitutional team. The two presidents have since retired from office. The process of writing a new constitution was never finalised. PHOTO | FILE

By Gadiosa Lamtey

Dar es Salaam. Debate focus on the process of writing the new constitution has now shifted to what should be the starting point with stakeholders agreeing on some areas and disagreeing on others.

The new wave of the debate comes just a day after CCM advised its government to consider reviving the stalled process. But, yesterday some right groups and political commentators expressed their views how to smoothen the process.

While some said there was no reason for convening the new Constituent Assembly (CA), others said the gathering and national consensus on key issues were important. They were senior officials from the Legal and Human Rights Center (LHRC), the Tanzania Constitution Platform (TCP) and political stakeholders.

Speaking to The Citizen, LHRC executive director Anna Henga suggested amendment of supportive laws such as the New Constitution Act, the Referendum Act should be the starting point to give the process the necessary and required legitimacy.

“The CA should use both; the Second Draft Constitution and Proposed Constitution during its debate. Doors should also be opened for Tanzanians to deliberate the matter through meetings, debates and media discussions,” she said.

Tanzania Constitution Forum (TCF) executive director Bob Chacha Wangwe said the content should be compiled in the Second Draft Constitution from the draft constitution and the Proposed Constitution.


“An independent committee of experts should then be tasked to produce the new proposed constitution that would be taken to citizens for voting during the referendum,” he said.

The National Electoral Commission (Nec) should undergo major reforms in order to be entrusted with important assignments during the process.

But, ACT-Wazalendo secretary general Ado Shaibu said the structure of the Union, powers of the president and accountability of government and security forces are the contentious issues that should be resolved first.

“The national consultative forum should be convened to gather stakeholders from different parts of the country for dialogue,” he said.

“A committee of experts should prepare the second proposed constitution from the second draft document and the first proposed constitution for voting during the referendum,” he added.

Mr Shaibu was opposed by University of Dar es Salaam (Udsm) political scientist Richard Mbunda who said the CA should be the starting point in order to resolve unresolved contentious issues that include Union structure, legislators’ term limits and several others.

“Issues of independent electoral commission, challenging presidential results in the court, reducing the president’s powers, appointment of judges had been included in the proposed constitution in 2014,” he said.

“Leaders of political parties had no reason to boycott the process that year. They could support the document and organise themselves to accommodate remaining issues in future,” he added, saying the document was better than the current Constitution.

But, Dr Paul Louslie of the University of Dodoma (Udom) revisiting to understand issues that stalled implementation of recommendations made by Judges Francis Nyalali and Barnabas Samatta commissions should be the starting area.

“Then the national consensus is needed as well as participation of all groups of citizens, especially politicians because once this group has resolved its differences then the whole process is complete,” he said.

“Remember what happened in Zanzibar, when political rivals Seif Shariff Hamad and Amani Abeid Karume made an amendment of the Zanzibar Constitution in 2010 that had no opposition,” he added.

On Thursday, CCM secretary of Ideology and Publicity, Mr Shaka Hamdu said the party’s National Executive Council (Nec) resolved to instruct the government to revive the new constitution writing process for the interests of Tanzanians and the country at large.