Tanzania's constitution outdated with regard to security organs, say experts

President Samia Suluhu Hassan with the Inspector General of Police Camillius Wabura after he was sworn-in

What you need to know:

  • Leadership experts, political commentators and politicians were reacting to the ongoing leadership changes in defence and security forces when they spoke separately to The Citizen yesterday.

Dar es Salaam. Ongoing leadership changes in the country’s defence and security forces being made by President Samia Suluhu Hassan would be efficient and sustainable under a new constitution, according to experts.

They have also said that what is required is a complete change of the country’s system of administration and reconciliation among Tanzanians, especially after what happened in the last five to six years.

Leadership experts, political commentators and politicians were reacting to the ongoing leadership changes in defence and security forces when they spoke separately to The Citizen yesterday.

The country recently witnessed leadership changes when General Venance Mabeyo retired as the Chief of Defence Forces in June, and was replaced by General Jacob Mkunda.

On July 20, 2022, President Hassan appointed former Director of Criminal Investigations Camillus Wambura as the new Inspector General of Police (IGP), succeeding Mr Simon Sirro, who was appointed Tanzania’s High Commissioner to Zimbabwe.

Also, on Sunday, the Head of State appointed Commissioner General of Prisons Suleiman Mzee Mara regional commissioner, leaving the sensitive post vacant.

After swearing in the new IGP at the Chamwino State House in Dodoma on July 20, President Hassan announced the formation of a committee of 12 people under the chairmanship of former Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman assisted by former Chief Secretary Ombeni Sefue.

The committee was tasked with advising the government on major reforms required in defence and security organs to ensure that justice is delivered in a timely manner and the safety and security of law-abiding citizens and their property are guaranteed.

President Hassan said the committee would extend its investigation to Prisons, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) and the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

“We are going to see if rules and regulations are followed by these organs. Are we really serious or are we used to each other such that we can’t act against each other,” said President Hassan.

A consultant in leadership issues, Mr Jesse Mashimi, welcomed the ongoing reforms as something that had been delayed after the country inherited the colonial constitution as well as defence and security systems.

He said TPDF reforms shortly after independence was the one guaranteeing the country with ongoing peace and security, observing that the country’s Police Force operated under the colonial system.

“Therefore, major reforms are required in defence and security forces. However, they should be guided by a well written new constitution,” he said.

According to him, democracy doesn’t guarantee accuracy in decision making, noting that the new constitution writing process should collect opinion from members of defence and security forces on how to strengthen the country’s defence and security.

“Defence and security are the core functions of any government in the world. That’s why, despite regularly changing governments, Israel has remained stable. The same applies to Italy and other developed countries,” he said.

He said while police in Europe report to counties or districts, police in Tanzania report to headquarters, something that denies citizens the right to suggest how they want to be defended.

“Therefore, a complete overhaul is required based on the new constitution,” he suggested.

Mr Mashimi said citizens should be free to reject leaders’ proposals as they are protected by institutions, noting that the concept is contrary to what is happening in Africa.

“Former US President Barack Obama once said Africa doesn’t need strong leaders, rather it needs strong institutions that lie on the country’s defence and security,” he said.

Mr Mashimi was seconded by Chadema secretary general John Mnyika who said constitutional reforms were the first, major and important transformation required by the country.

He said that was because it constitutes issues intended to bring required changes in defence and security organs’ systems of appointment and operations.

He said the Constitution Reform Commission (CRC) under Judge (rtd) Joseph Warioba said Tanzania Defence Commission and Police Force Commission are institutions suggested to assist the president in the appointment of defence and security heads.

According to him, the system requires the Head of State to receive recommendations from the National Defence and Security Council (NDSC) for the appointment of the IGP.

“Therefore, the new constitution writing process should be accelerated to guarantee efficient and sustainable reforms in defence and security organs. This is because the new document is directly connected to the appointment, operation and control of security organs,” he said.

He observed that reforms should be done after understanding the nature of problems facing the country and that the Truth and Justice Commission had to be formed to bring reconciliation following what transpired in the last five to six years.

But, his ACT-Wazalendo counterpart, Mr Ado Shaibu, said reforms would enable TPDF to remain with its core functions instead of sometimes being used as a political tool.

“We have witnessed TPDF’s involvement in cashews business, intimidating citizens who planned demonstrations over natural gas transfer to Dar es Salaam from southern regions instead of performing its core obligation to protect the country,” he said.

Mr Shaibu said the Prisons are required to provide modern skills to inmates and effectively work as a recreation centre, noting that the Fire and Rescue Department required major technological reforms.

“However, the Police Force needed major reforms because the efficiency of other institutions such as the PCCB, Immigration and Prisons is determined by how it performs. Weak Police Force will weaken other institutions,” he said.

But, a political science lecturer from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Prof Bakari Mohamed said sustainable and efficient reforms require changes in the country’s administrative system.

He said since defence and security forces have been inherited from the colonial rule with exception to TPDF that was reformed after a failed rebellion attempt, they required major reforms.

“Defence and security forces especially the Police Force still operate as if they are still in the colonial era. The country requires reconciliation in its administrative system for police and security organs to work with integrity,” he said.

For his part, the CUF Protocol, Communications and Foreign Affairs director, Mr Mohamed Ngulangwa, said ongoing reforms are in response to citizens’ complaints on Police’s involvement in incidents of killings and cases fabrications in different parts of the country.

“Retired CDF General Venance Mabeyo’s outstanding leadership should be commended. He led the country during a transition period following the death in office of former President John Magufuli,” he said.

He suggested that President Hassan should closely look at the PCCB, noting that instead of curbing corruption the underperforming institution is itself involved in the incidents.