NYERERE INTERVENES FORCEFULLY IN CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATE

Recent newspaper headlines

Tanzania’s constitutional dilemma continues and Father of the Nation Julius Nyerere has expressed his views very forcefully and with some success. As explained in previous issues of this Bulletin, Tanzania faces three alternatives:

– Continuation of the present constitutional system (with some necessary amendments) under which there is a central government for the whole of the United Republic in which Zanzibar is represented far more strongly than is justified by its size or importance and in which there is a separate government for Zanzibar with considerable devolved powers; this system of government has been widely accepted for many years by the majority of the people on the mainland (although with some grumbling about the extent of the favouritism shown to Zanzibar) and probably by a majority in the Isles although a move to break away from the Union has attracted increasing support during recent years;

– The establishment of a strong central government for the two parts of the country with no separate government for Zanzibar; this solution has a number of advocates on the mainland but is assumed to be totally unacceptable in Zanzibar.

– The establishment of an additional government – a Government of Tanganyika; this is the proposal that is at the centre of the intense current debate as can be seen from the selection of recent media headlines shown opposite.

In early 1993 Zanzibar’s decision to join the ‘organisation of Islamic Conference’ (OIC) roused hostility in the Union Parliament and a Commission of Enquiry was set up which strongly condemned the action.

In August 1993, under strong pressure from the mainland, Zanzibar withdrew from the OIC. But the gesture was too late.

Opposition to what was considered Zanzibar’s privileged position in the Union had grown. 55 Members of Parliament, in a decision described in ‘New African’ as ‘the first rebellion in 16 years of the rubber-stamp CCM Parliament’, signed a motion demanding the setting up of a separate government for Tanganyika. Several senior members of government including the Speaker of the House expressed their agreement and the motion was eventually accepted unanimously by Parliament. The Government was required to ‘make provision for the establishment of a separate government for Tanganyika by 1995’. It was agreed that the government would facilitate country-wide consultations. Mwalimu Nyerere made clear his opposition to this move and indicated that he thought it would lead to the break-up of the Union and encourage division amongst different elements in the country.

ONE-MAN SHOW
On October 14, 1993 the National Executive Committee (NEC)of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Party met in Dodoma.

Mwalimu Nyerere apparently requested that he be invited to the meeting, and, according to ‘Africa Events’ virtually turned it into a one-man show. ‘He dressed down the senior leadership of the Government and Party and reduced them to a mere gang of greenhorns and blunderers. He accused them of bad faith and for being too weak in defending the age-long CCM policy of the two-government Union and for allowing anti-Union forces to commandeer the Tanganyika issue and raise it in Parliament before even the Party policy making organs had discussed it and reached a decision. “I am ready to resign from this Party or from any other party that introduces a Tanganyika Government” Nyerere threatened the assembled delegates amid intermittent applause from the Zanzibar delegates’ .

The ‘Africa Events’ article went on: ‘Nyerere said that the nation’s present ills, such as embezzlement, thefts of public funds and high level corruption, could not be eradicated in a Tanganyika Government and the Union was now on the rocks because “some of you have committed blunders and refuse to be answerable”.

Nyerere’s outburst was said to have had an instant effect on an attentive President Mwinyi, who, in response, stunned pro-Tanganyika delegates by confessing that a mistake had indeed been made.

President Mwinyi was quoted in ‘Uhuru’ as expressing surprise that some CCM leaders had decided to propose policy changes without following correct procedures. He said that old age can be like a medicine and represent a treasury of experience. It was wise to accept criticism. If one was told one’s mistakes the best thing to do was to go back and follow the proper procedures. His speech was punctuated by applause. In finally adjourning the meeting he directed that the debate should be taken further and follow the correct procedures. There were loud cries from the hall “CCM …. CCM … CCM …”.

COORDINATING THE PEOPLE’S VIEWS
In its official press release at the end of the meeting the NEC stated that:

WHILE IT IS CCM POLICY TO HAVE A UNION WITH TWO GOVERNMENTS, THE NEC, TAKING INTO CONSIDERATION THE REQUIREMENTS OF BROADER DEMOCRACY, HAS RECOMMENDED THAT THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC SHOULD APPOINT A COMMITTEE TO REGISTER AND COORDINATE THE PEOPLE’S VIEWS. SINCE THE PARLIAMENTARY RESOLUTION AFFECTS THE LIFE OF OUR UNION, IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THE EXERCISE TO AIR VIEWS IS GIVEN AMPLE TIME AND SHOULD NOT BE DONE HURRIEDLY. THE NEC DIRECTS THAT THE PERIOD BETWEEN NOW AND 1995 BE UTILISED BY THE WANANCHI TO AIR THEIR VIEWS AND FOR THE PRESIDENTIAL COORDINATION COMMITTEE TO SCRUTINISE THE PEOPLE’S VIEWS AND SUBMIT ITS REPORT TO THE PRESIDENT … THE FINAL DECISION ON THE STRUCTURE OF THE UNION WILL BE MADE BY THE PARLIAMENT AND GOVERNMENT.

The whole issue was raised again at a joint NEC-Member of Parliament ‘consultative’ meeting in Dodoma which began on November 12th and was designed to facilitate consensus and a common stand. The 400 delegates agreed that all the organs of the Party would be consulted on the issue.

It appears that Mwalimu Nyerere became even more outspoken this time. According to the ‘Business Times’ he made an unprecedented attack on his successors whom he described as ‘wolves in sheeps clothing’. His attack was said to have been partially in the form of a 200-verse Swahili poem called ‘Tanzania, Tanzania’ and also in a two-hour address to the meeting. He was said to have accused those supporting a Tanganyika Government of either being driven by ignorance or outright malice. The poem castigated government leaders for not accepting the idea of a referendum on the constitution as had been proposed by some MP’s.

Opposition parties were highly critical of Mwalimu and the Government and pointed out that in view of the trend of events the formation of a Tanganyika Government was inevitable. The leader of one party said that the government was confused and was not respecting the decision of Parliament. CHADEMA asked why CCM should consider itself the sole player in every matter happening in the country. Another party leader said that the resolution to form a Tanganyika Government within the Union was legal and had been in compliance with all the laid down procedures.

At the end of the meeting President Mwinyi called for vision, cooperation and solidarity. Emotions, haste, suspicion and witch-hunting should be avoided.

THE NEXT LEADER?
Meanwhile, the Swahili press has been indulging in speculation as to who might be the next leader of Tanzania. ‘Kiongozi’ reported that all sorts of names were being floated including that of the Vice-Chancellor of the Open university, Professor Geoffrey Mmari; ‘Heko’ said that its poll had favoured the Rev. Christopher Mtikila as the future leader.

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