Tanzania reforms crusaders change tune

Sunday August 27 2023

Tanzania's Chadema Party Chairman Freeman Mbowe (C) gestures as he arrives at the party's headquarters after being released from Segerea Prison in Dar es Salaam on March 14, 2020. PHOTO | AFP


Tanzanian reforms crusaders are opting for amendments on the current constitution instead an overhaul in what could be a compromise with the government.

Opposition political parties, religious groups and human rights lobbies have been pushing President Samia’s government to revive the drafting of a new constitution.

But now stakeholders including the government officials and development partners say the remaining time to the next General Election is too short to start a draft.

Read: Tanzania set date for building consensus on reforms

Tanzania expects to hold civic elections in 2024 as well as presidential and parliamentary polls in 2025.

Stakeholders gathered for the two-day meeting in Dar es Salaam at the Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD) on Tuesday and Wednesday this week to reflect the state of multiparty democracy in Tanzania. There are fears that the country cannot proceed with drafting and passing a new law before those polls.


The TCD Chairman Ibrahim Lipumba said after the meeting that the remaining time for drafting then endorsing the New Constitution was too short.

“This conference has, therefore, resolved that there is a need for minimum reforms to be undertaken in the 1977 constitution, which would expand the democratic space in Tanzania before the elections. Those reforms will ensure wider citizens’ participation in the elections”, Prof Lipumba said.
Prof Lipumba is also the chairman of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) party.

Over 200 participants have participated the meeting that was organised by TCD, a non-profit political parties’ membership organisation working to enhance multiparty democracy in Tanzania.

For now, they want minimum reforms such as a provision that allows for more autonomy for the independent electoral commission and independent candidates to be allowed.

Also, the constitution should allow presidential elections to be challenged in court, and a presidential candidate should garner 51 per cent of the vote to be declared a winner.

Read: TZ opposition ponders Samia's game plan

These are the same reforms which political parties had suggested in 2014 after knowing that voters would go to civic elections that same year and the presidential elections the following year without the New Constitution. The calls for reforms actually began in 2011 under the former President Jakaya Kikwete.

The current constitution was passed in 1977.