Draft Tanzania constitution proposes new three-tier government

Tanzania vice president Mohammed Gharib Bilal unveils Tanzania's first draft constitution as Constitution Review Commission chairman Joseph Warioba looks on in Dar es Salaam on June 3, 2013. MICHAEL JAMSON | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Tanzania's Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) Monday unveiled the first draft mother law, which proposes a radical change in the structure of the union.

The commission has proposed a federal union comprised of three governments, CRC chairman Joseph Warioba said at the launch in Dar es Salaam.

The retired judge said the decision came after consideration of all views on the contentious union issue. This would essentially take the country back to the Tanganyika government that ceased to exist when the United Republic of Tanzania was formed on April 26, 1964.

In the new scheme of things, the Tanganyika government would have its own President, parliament and other organs.

The union government would be leaner, with about 15 cabinet members and a parliament that does not exceed 75 members.

The Zanzibar Isles will retain their own semi-autonomous government under the new arrangement as was the case under the old. Zanzibar and the mainland united in April 1964 to form the union government.

"The union issue was the most contentious of all," Judge Warioba said. "We received many views, some of which called for the break-up of the union itself."

Some groups had advocated a one-government union while others backed the status quo of two governments. Yet others proposed a four-government structure.

"We weighed the pros and cons and arrived at the conclusion that the three-government structure was best,” said the CRC chairman.

Current structure rejected

The current structure was rejected because of the sensitivities and opposition from both sides of the union.

CRC has also proposed the reduction of the number of union matters from the current 22 to seven. Issues that would still be under the union include foreign affairs, immigration and citizenship, the central bank and currency and defence and security.

Other matters to be retained in the union docket include registration of political parties, constitutional issues and import duty and non-tax revenue accrued from resources that are under the union.

Breaking down the proposed union parliament, Judge Warioba said 20 of the 75 members would be Zanzibari, 50 from the mainland and five appointees of the President by virtue of special seats allocated to the disabled.

A treaty-based union that would give the Isles more autonomy was popular in Zanzibar.

'End of union'

But Judge Warioba noted: "The problem with the treaty-based union is that it requires the breakdown of the current union government to allow two sovereign countries to enter a new pact. This is tricky. If you allow it, that would be the end of the union. And, according to the terms of reference that we were given, dissolving of the union is out of the question."

Some Zanzibaris promptly said the draft constitution has not met their expectations, particularly on the contentious treaty-based union.

Fifty three-year-old Hashim Moh’d, a resident of Darajani in Zanzibar, said: “We wanted more autonomy, specifically on immigration and citizenship, foreign affairs and central bank and currency but our voices have not been heard. It is Tanganyikans who stand to gain from the proposed constitution."

Mr Masoud Suleiman, 51 and a resident of Bububu, said it was sovereignty for Zanzibar now or never. Taxi driver Abdallah Hamad, 33, added: “This draft constitution is a joke and what it has done is to benefit mainlanders."

But legislator Rajab Mbarouk Mohamed (Ole-Civic United Front) praised the new constitution, especially for recognising the needs of disabled.

"The disabled were neglected for a long time and I commend the CRC for proposing the creation of special seats in parliament for members from that group," Mr Mohammed added.

--Additional reporting by Talib Ussi in Zanzibar and Habel Chidawali in Dodoma

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