Sometimes it seems as if the political situation in Tanzania is taking turns few anticipated, attempting to deliver results few thought possible. Last week is no exception.
Like out of the blue, the ruling party’s top political body, dubbed the National Executive Committee (NEC), came out last week and told the public that this was the case Government to revive the constitutional process, which was suspended some 10 years ago when Jakaya Kikwete was President.
At the behest of the new leader, President Samia Suluhu, the old machinery of Chama Cha Mapinduzi ( CCM) changed tack on this important issue.
Many of us didn’t see this coming, although it’s fair to say we should have.
The reason why was not so clear in his coming, but the palpable resistance on the part of the ruling party to any talk pointing to constitutional reform.
The explanation can be found in so many factors , but let’s say , Rule number one in such matters is that the turkey can hardly vote for Christmas.
It is c The traditional wisdom that the country’s main opposition forces have been sufficiently clear on the need for a new constitutional dispensation to abolish those aspects of the Constitution they have been vocal against, one of which is the extremely centralized powers in their hands the President, making him or her what they call an “Imperial President”.
For those who may not understand this, an explanation is in order: the President of Tanzania, of course, appoints the cabinet without the appointments being questioned.
Then he/she appoints the chief secretaries of the ministries; the commissioners, directors, deputy directors in government departments; the regional officers, the district officers, the executives at district and district level; all executives of parastatal and specialized agencies; Chiefs of Defense, Security, and just about anyone in public office.
The problem here is that all of these officers are never overseen and scrutinized by any committee or council.
These presidential appointments effectively give the president the power to choose who he/she likes, even if he/she cannot tell the appointee from Adam.
Under the current constitution, though election results for MPs and district councils this can be challenged in court, the results of the presidential election are not contestable.
Even worse, a president was elected by a simple majority following a curious amendment by Benjamin Mkapa in 1996, when he was president will, which means we could have it elect a president with just 10 percent of the vote, even less.
It’s not even clear if the president pays taxes, which is the most important duty e is every citizen.
< p>The President of Tanzania is obviously above the law and is effectively a king/queen. One can see where those calling for a new constitution are coming from.
But there is more. The main opposition party has for some time posited strong local government, with local citizens electing their leaders and rulers.
This would reverse the current President’s practice of selecting a native from the southernmost part of the country, to serve as governor of a northernmost district he/she doesn’t know or care about, and so on.
There are so many other obvious discrepancies in the constitutional dispensation and the governance practices in this country and these must be addressed in any conversation that President Samia intends to start at this point. Furthermore, any serious discussion of the Constitution must consider a number of these issues.
I do not expect the ruling CCM party willingly to nullify the very agreements that have benefited them, which sometimes allows them to to reap where they never planted. How can anyone expect these people to give up all of that just because they’ve finally traveled the road to Damascus and seen the light.
There will have to be some tough negotiations in this exchange, and many educational ones Work needs to be done because there are too many gaps in what our people, including those who wish to be political leaders, understand what constitutional revision entails.
It’s not going to be easy, and Samia might find that she’s bitten off more than she can chew or swallow, and the steepest obstacles to jump over will most likely come from her own party, which is too advanced in the entrenched anti-democracy culture for us to believe that they suddenly changed places.
Timeo danaos et porta ferentes, said the old Latins. I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts. Those familiar with the story of the Trojan Horse understand the full meaning of this saying, and I suppose they will be alert to these questions at all times as they follow the constitutional debates, if indeed those debates are taking place.’ /p>
Meanwhile, the Ngorongoro/Loliondo saga rages on unabated and further eruptions cannot be ruled out.
Jenerali Ulimwengu is now on YouTube via Jenaalionline tv. Email: [emailprotected]