by Enos Bukuku
New Katiba – Which way will Magufuli go?
The latest stage to be reached during the constitution making process was for a proposed draft of the proposed constitution to be presented to the people by way of a referendum. This was put on hold whilst the nation was preparing for the elections.
It is not yet clear how high this issue ranks on President Magufuli’s list of priorities as he continues to shake up the administration. During his inauguration speech he indicated that a middle ground would need to be found to continue the process of making a new constitution. He also acknowledged that the previous draft constitution created by the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) should also be respected. The CRC, led by retired Judge Warioba, previously had many of its recommendations rejected after the current “proposed constitution” was written by the Constitutional Assembly (CA). The rejection of the CRC’s recommendations was the catalyst of the formation of UKAWA and the breakdown of relationships amongst the members of the CA.
If the President is serious about the success of a new constitution, then he has an opportunity and a mandate to decide against the proposed constitution. He could easily opt not to put it to a referendum, on the grounds that it is too divisive.
As he enjoys national and international praise for his early stance on corruption and maladministration, it would make some sense for the President to use this opportunity and goodwill to push for a new constitution which will enable him to better implement his plans and show how sincere he is.
For example, there has always been a criticism of the government that it has too much power, and that there should be more separation of power between the government and the national assembly. This would make holders of governmental office more accountable for their actions and is one more weapon in the fight against corruption. He has already reduced the size of his cabinet. Streamlining and reducing the size of the government and national assembly could be a massive costs saving for the country whilst allowing them to work more efficiently.
It would seem that the options open to President Magufuli are threefold:
First, he could continue where President Kikwete had left off. This would involve educating the public about the content of the proposed constitution and arranging a referendum. It would probably result in the president losing much of the goodwill he has built up since the election.
Second, a safer option would involve changes to the proposed constitution to remove some of the more controversial sections, making it more similar to the CRC’s original draft – an UKAWA-friendly “middle ground”.
A third, and unlikely option, would be to abandon the process altogether.
Whichever option the new administration chooses, action will need to be taken, as the Constitutional Review Act 2011 and Referendum, Act 2013 impose duties on those involved in the process to comply with various steps and deadlines.