New Constitution Making; the Debate Still Hot

Posted on | november 10, 2011 | No Comments

Onegain Tanzanians representing religious sects have indicated that they need a new constitution rather than amending the existing one which they claim is outdated.

Meeting at the Dar es Salaam International Conference Centre early last week, participants reflected views from various religious denominations in Tanzania namely; the office of the Mufti in Zanzibar, Tanzania Muslim Professionals (TAMPRO), and the Tanzania Episcopal Council (TEC).

Others were from the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT), the Pentecostal Churches if Tanzania (PCT). Bahaai and Budha. The constitutional debate was organized by the Inter-Religious Council for Peace Tanzania (IRCPT), and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).

The conference was held at the Dar es Salaam International Conference Centre (DICC), the guest of honour at the occasion was Germany’s ambassador to Tanzania H.E. Klaus-Peter Brandes who showered praise to the peaceful existence amongst people of various religious denominations in Tanzania saying that this is a legacy of the founding father of this nation Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

He replicated the same respect to the legacy of Konrad Adenauer whose leadership in late 1940s has left much to be emulated. “It is through hard work and fervent service to the people that people respect these types of leaders whose service we proudly remember today.

From KAS-Tanzania it was Stefan Reith who said Tanzania’s peace has a lot to do with harmonious meetings like the one which his foundation has set forth in collaboration with the IRCPT. He advised further that it is through such dialogues that people can resolve matters of mutual concern amicably.

The Chairman of the IRCPT, retired justice Raymond Mwaikasu called for boldness on the part of leaders whenever they discuss matters of national interest including the formulation of a new constitution.

“You have so many people behind you who need to be put the right direction, it is your task to facilitate the process of constitutional reforms fro the betterment of this country,” he said.

The chairman of the Constitutional Forum, Deus Kibamba said that Tanzania inherited a constitution from the British who had designed it in the Westminster model but it started to undergo gradual transformations in order to meet the requirements of the new leadership to the extent of amending it to recognize a dejure one party system in 1965.

He remarked that it was under such circumstances that this constitution started to deny wider participation from the masses. “It was since that time that we started to see decrees and amendments which did not reflect the will of the people because they were not fully involved,” said Kibamba.

There after, added Kibamba that even independent candidates were denied an opportunity to contest a decision which violates the freedom of choice to many Tanzanians who do not like to join in political party although they want to be involved in active politics.

But to complicate the situation even further is the fact that in 1977 it was the same panel that was involved for the formation of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which later was given the task to formulate the constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania which is still in existence.

The iimediate former executive director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre, Francis Kiwanga reminded that currently what Tanzanians demand is the formulation of a new constitution because the previous ones and even the existing lacks political legitimacy due to the fact that there was no people’s participation during its formulation.

Retired justice Mwaikasu contributing on this presentation said that there was a need to have a Constitutional Parliament or Constitutional Conference in order to overhaul the existing constitution. Prof Emeritus of law from the University of Dar es Salaam Josephat Kanywanyi said that Article 98 of the existing constitution demand for a formation of a new law in order to replace it.

While this was going on representatives from Zanzibar called for the new constitution which respects the sovereignty of Zanzibar within the Union. This stance complicated even further the debate as representatives from the Mainland part of the Union said that many of the complains have been coming from that part of the Union a situation which calls fro the need to redefine the Articles of the Union.

But regardless of which part of the Union they are coming from, and even religious affinity there was a mutual agreement that the powers of the president must be shelved. There was a general concern that without doing so there were chances of arbitrary use of power by the president due to the fact that they have been bestowed by many powers of appointment and firing appointees.

In another stance attendants were forced into a big laughter after one participant Dr Paul Shemsanga from the PCT said that the Tanzanian Parliament has been reduced into an endorser of Bills from the Government rather than formulating legislations within its own.

Sheikh Ali Saidi Mosse from the Islam Ahmadiyya counseled that the New Constitution must start by recognizing God, a stance that has been previously suggested by retired Chief Justice Barnabas Samatta.

On his part the Secretary General of the Tanzania Episcopal Council (TEC), Fr Anthony Makunde urged religious leaders to encourage their congregations to make a positive and active participation during the debate for the formulation of the new constitution.

The Konrad Adenaeur Stiftung (KAS) Foundation has promised that it will publish on this debate. The Team Leader at KAS, Mr Richard Shaba said that his organization has already published a book in Swahili language following a debate on the Bill for the enacting of a new Constitution in Tanzania that was disputed in many circles of this country.

The 58 pages booklet is aimed at allowing many people who are not well acquainted in English to make a follow up in the new Constitution debate. This publication is based on the debate at the DICC that was conducted on April 12, this year.

The booklet goes by the name “Muswada wa Mapitio ya Katiba ya Nchi wa Mwaka 2011”. It highlights resolutions of a convention that did put together NGOs dealing with civic education, human rights and the media.

The conference was organized by the Tanzania Development Initiative Programme (TADIP), in collaboration with the Konrad Adenaeur Stiftung (KAS) Foundation.

A range of issues were discussed on the efficacy of the amendments to be done. The main presenters were Prof Chris Maina and Bashiru Ally from the University of Dar es Salaam, Steven Mmbogo programme manager TADIP, while the chairperson of the event was Ms Rose Mwakitwange former CEO of the New Habari Corporation one of the leading media houses in Tanzania

AUTHOR: Elias Mhegera
E-MAIL: mhegeraelias [at]


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