Fresh stalemate hits constitution review

Saturday April 19 2014

Tanzania’s constitution making is in a stalemate following a boycott by a group of Members of the Constituent Assembly (MCAs).

The MCAs, mostly drawn from the opposition camp under the umbrella Coalition of Defenders of the People’s Constitution, have vowed not to resume debate until their demands are met.

Going by the statements of the minority MCAs and their majority counterparts, their leaders have to negotiate outside the House for them to reach common ground again.

On Wednesday, members of the coalition, known by its Kiswahili acronym Ukawa, walked out of the debating chamber after accusing the assembly of promoting discrimination instead of national cohesion.

The assembly was debating Chapters One and Six of the second Draft Constitution when the MCAs from both sides started trading words.

Chapter One defines the United Republic of Tanzania as a sovereign federal state created out of the Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Chapter Six emphasises that the United Republic of Tanzania will consist of three governments – one for each of the federated states and another for the sovereign country. 


The two chapters drew battle lines between the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), gunning for the existing two-tier Union government structure comprising the United Republic of Tanzania and Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, and the opposition Ukawa, which is mainly made up of the countries’ three major opposition parties with representation in parliament, supports the second draft constitution’s proposal to have a three-tier Union government model.

Revival of government

The Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), the Civic United Front and the National Convention and Construction for Reforms - Mageuzi (NCCR-Mageuzi) are jointly demanding the revival of the Tanganyika government, which was dissolved at the inception of the Union.

But CCM maintains that a federal structure would, shortly after its adoption, kill the Union, which is unique in Africa and which will clock 50 years next week.