EXPLAINING THE RULES

Tanzania 2014 | DIPLOMACY | FOCUS: CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM

Calls for greater autonomy for Zanzibar have pushed the idea of constitutional reform to the forefront.

In March 2011, Parliament passed the Constitutional Review Act (CRA) No. 8, amended in February 2012 by CRA No. 2 aimed at regulating the constitutional review process. That process was finally set in motion in April 2012 following the appointment of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC). Former Judge Joseph Warioba was selected to Chair the CRC, and over the past several months he and his team have consulted and held discussions with various elements of Tanzanian society to help review and redraft the current constitution. On June 3, 2013, the CRC unveiled its first draft of the proposed new constitution.

The draft constitution, published in June 2013, seems to propose the reinstitution of the government of Tanganyika by creating a federation of three governments and enhancing the status of the mainland vis-à-vis Zanzibar, which operates under an autonomous government. There will be a government for Mainland Tanzania (Tanganyika), one for Zanzibar, and one for the Union, which would sit above both governments maintaining the Union. Under the CRA, the Commission is obliged to observe, among other things, the sanctity and inviolability of the Union, the existence of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, and national cohesion and peace—balancing the entire edifice, particularly on this matter, will be one of the biggest challenges for the commission. Another major and long debated aspect concerns the extent of presidential powers, and a rethink on the entire system concerning the separation of powers. Currently, Tanzania operates a unique hybrid system composed of elements of a parliamentary and presidential system. The President has been imbued with wide-ranging authority that many consider amounts to a US-style “imperial presidency." It was hoped that the commission would review and redress some of these concerns; however, the CRA directs the commission to observe the sanctity and inviolability of the executive, the legislature and judicature, and the presidency. In his public statements following the June 2013 publication of the draft constitution, CRC Chair, Joseph Warioba, seemed to reaffirm the current executive powers when he clarified that the Union would be under the leadership of an executive president who was Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the defense and security forces. He added that the Union president would oversee foreign affairs, the central bank, immigration and citizenship, as well as the appointment of Supreme Court judges and ministers, who would not be members of parliament. The third key issue relates to reform of the electoral system. In that respect, two aspects stand out. The first is the possibility of a complete overhaul of the electoral system in view of the fact that the 1977 Constitution was adopted against the backdrop of Tanzania's former one-party system. Given that it is now a multi-party democracy, some have argued the need for a fresh start to construct a democratic system based on contemporary political practice. Secondly, under the current system, special provisions are made to ensure that women are reserved seats in parliament to promote gender equality. What we can take away on this matter from the draft constitution published in June 2013 is that in the future, independent political candidates will be allowed to contest any leadership positions, including at the national level. With regards to special provisions for women, the June 2013 draft of the constitution seems to eliminate that in favor of a requirement that every province elect two parliamentarians, of whom one has to be a female and the other a male. This effectively guarantees 50% female representation in parliament.

The draft constitution announced in June 2013 also attempts to address numerous other issues including:

• Taking the unprecedented step of making education a guaranteed right for every Tanzanian

• If approved, the constitution would scale down some of the president's powers, in particular his or her ability to appoint civil servants unchallenged. Any nomination would require parliamentary approval

• The constitution also stipulates that professionals in respective fields would fill ministerial posts, rather than career politicians. It limits the number of ministries in the federal government to 15

• The draft proposes term limits for parliamentarians to no more than three five-year terms. It also gives unsatisfied voters the power to recall their representatives

• The draft establishes Tanzania's Supreme Court, which would have the final say on legal matters and interpretations of the law.