The Judge Robert Kisanga Committee considering the Government’s White Paper on constitutional change finished its work and presented its report to President Mkapa in early November. The report was published just as this issue of ‘Tanzanian Affairs’ went to press. There was much speculation on what it would say about the future of the union with Zanzibar.
The death of Mwalimu Nyerere had already rekindled the debate on the constitution of the United Republic. Mwalimu had always fought fiercely against any change to the existing two government structure (one government for the United Republic and one for Zanzibar). The ‘East African’ wrote in November however that it believed that the Kisanga Report would be likely to recommend the setting up of an interim government for Tanzania in 2000 pending further consideration of a new constitution. A proposal for a new federal structure with a government for Tanganyika, a government for Zanzibar and a Union government has attracted widespread support. But the policy of the Mkapa government was still to continue with the status quo. On November 2 opposition leader in the Union parliament, Ms Fauna Maghimbi (Civic United Front -CUF), who comes from Zanzibar, said that the present system had a lot of contradictions which should be addressed.
Meanwhile, the irrepressible opposition activist Augustine Mrema finally won what might be the final stage of his battle to be accepted as chairman of the Tanzania Labour Party (TLP) following a general meeting of the party. He had joined it (or ‘gatecrashed’ it as claimed by some of the former leaders of the party) in a surprise coup in mid-1999 (TA No 64). The result of a court case brought by these former leaders was that Mrema, the party’s former chairman and new Deputy Chairman, Leo Lakamwa, and the new Secretary General, Harold Jaffu, were recognised in their respective posts. The Judge said that the court had no power to grant an injunction against them -they would be be denied their rights to engage in the political life of the country because in Tanzania political life was not possible outside political parties. But the original leaders of the TLP who had taken the matter to court refused to accept the verdict and insisted that Mrema’s membership of the party was illegal. Later, following a speech in Moshi during which he was alleged to have insulted the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) leadership and the late Mwalimu Nyerere, Mrema was detained by the police for a short period and charged with sedition and defamation.
Many were surprised to learn on August 18 that in the by-election in the BUKOBA RURAL constituency where the CCM MP, former Minister of Labour and Youth Development Sebastian Kinyondo, had been removed from his seat by the court following allegations of corruption in 1968 (he had obtained 42,269 votes compared with CHADEMA’s 1 0,1 09 votes in the general election) had been re-elected unopposed. Apparently a CHADEMA candidate had collected a form but had managed to list only 23 referees instead of the 25 required under the rules. Two names on the list were apparently repeated. He then failed to appeal within the required time and Mr Sebastian Kinyondo was declared the MP again.
Meanwhile the former leading opposition party NCCR-Mageuzi took a further step in its decline when its outspoken Chairman of the Dar es Salaam branch, Dr Masurnbuko Lamwai, resigned. He complained that, although the party had received from the government Shs 500 million for its by-election expenses in the Ubungo and Temeke byelections, he as one of the party’s candidates, had been granted only Shs 5 million and had received no support from the leadership in his campaign.
Opposition CHADEMA leader Bob Makani is reported to have said that the opposition parties had learnt from past mistakes and had begun to discuss closer cooperation in the future. But the CCM seems more certain than ever of winning the next elections later this year. President Mkapa seems to fear that he might be chosen unanimously as his CCM party’s candidate for the elections and has expressed a wish that somebody should stand against him so as to make for a real contest.