CONSTITUTIONAL PROBLEM STILL NOT SOLVED

In the last issue of TA the problem of the constitutional position of the Vice-Presidency was outlined. Subsequently Parliament passed an 11th Amendment to the Constitution which deprived the Zanzibar President of his automatic right to occupy the position of Vice-President in the Union Government; it was accepted however that he/she would be entitled to a senior post in the Union cabinet. The reason for the change, which House Speaker Pius Msekwa has been vigorously defending, was the fear that, under multi-partyism, it would be possible for a Vice-President to be elected who was not in the same party as the elected President.

But Zanzibar was unhappy with the amendment and remains very unhappy. One party leader has said that if elected their party’s president would not sit in the Union cabinet.

The Law society pointed out that the Amendment conflicted with the 1964 Articles of the Union. To make the change there would have had to have been a two thirds majority of all mainland and Zanzibar MP’s. If challenged in court, there could be a constitutional crisis. Surprisingly, on the same day (January 20) it was announced that President Mwinyi had signed the Constitutional Amendment a few days earlier!

As this issue went to press the government was promising a Bill in Parliament in April which would clarify the status and role of the Zanzibar President in Union affairs. The isles’ main opposition party CUF has made it clear that it opposes the 11th Amendment.

The National Assembly also rejected an earlier proposal (TA No 50) that 20 seats should be reserved in the National Assembly for persons to be nominated by parties achieving a certain proportion of the votes in an election.

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