by Enos Bukuku
The list of organisations calling for a new constitution grows longer
At the end of last year, the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition, Tanzania Constitution Forum and representatives of over 80 civil society organisations raised concerns about respect for democracy and human rights in Tanzania, arguing that a key part of the solution would be for the constitutional review process to resume. Added to this list are various religious groups who feel obligated to speak up for the people. One such group is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT). Shortly before Easter, 27 ELCT bishops put their signatures to a document which, amongst other matters, requested that the constitution making process be revived. The ELCT made the following statement:
“Most Tanzanians believe that there is a need for a new constitution, which will address the many challenges that the country is facing…… When someone dies or disappears under mysterious circumstances, security organs should make sure that independent investigations into the matter are conducted so that the culprits can be brought to justice.”
The opposition party Chadema has been consistent in demanding a new constitution over the last couple of years. It has been joined by another opposition party, the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo), led by Zitto Kabwe, which proclaimed it would promote this issue as its main political agenda. One of its secretaries, Mr Ado Shaibu, said, “Our main focus is to make sure that democratic principles are protected – and this will be through enacting a new constitution”. ACT-Wazalendo and Chadema are also aiming to work together on this big push for a long-awaited new Katiba. This potential alliance has similarities with UKAWA. Whilst the alliance may not result in a formal coalition, once again the government’s stance on the constitution is giving opposition parties a strong platform for change.
On 6th February, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, the Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, responded to questions regarding a conflict between the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Constitution of Zanzibar by saying that he sees no reason to amend the constitution. Since his appointment approximately one year ago Prof Kabudi has not offered any signs of support for the growing list of Tanzanians who want to see some progress. As far as the government is concerned, it is not a priority.