by Enos Bukuku
Government resists mounting pressure to kickstart Katiba process The appointment in April 2017 of Prof Palamagamba Kabudi as Constitution and Legal Affairs Minister was seen by many to be a catalyst to restart the process of making a new constitution. This expectation was enhanced further when he indicated soon after his appointment that a resumption would take place soon.
At the time of writing, however, there has been no progress at all. There remains a growing concern of human rights abuses in Tanzania which has led to criticism that a new constitution should be high on the priority list. CCM MP Lazaro Nyalandu resigned both as an MP and a member of the party on 30th October, citing these alleged human rights abuses and a lack of separation of powers amongst the three pillars of the state: the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary. It is understood that he plans to join Chadema.
The Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) has demanded that preparations for a new constitution should start now. Similar appeals to the government have been made by the Tanzania Constitution Forum (TCF) and representatives of over 80 civil society organisations.
Meanwhile, a recent survey by Twaweza suggests that two thirds of Tanzanians want a new constitution.
Despite these appeals, on 9th November Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa reaffirmed the government’s previous stance on this issue, in that it is not high on their list of priorities. In response to questions put to him in Parliament he replied that “after satisfying ourselves that the provision of social services has reached the ideal standards, especially in the rural areas, that is when we will resume the exercise of completing the new constitution-making process”.
One factor is cost. It would cost several billion shillings to continue with the constitution review process, whereas the government would rather allocate those funds for what they consider to be more important projects.
How long it will take to bring social services to “ideal standards” is anyone’s guess and open to very wide interpretation. Some of the more cynical political commentators would say that it is merely a way to avoid the issue. Once again, it looks as though we will have to wait a very long time for any change to the status quo.