- Published on Monday, 24 September 2012 01:58
- Written by AUGUSTINE SANGI
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THE focus of the ongoing Constitutional reform discussions in Tanzania is on the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977.
The discussions began shortly after the 32-member Constitutional Review Commission headed by Judge Joseph Warioba was appointed in April this year by President Jakaya Kikwete. The commission has been appointed to consult the people about the need to replace the existing Constitution.
There has been great need for a new Constitution, especially by politicians, since the introduction of a multi-party democracy in Tanzania in 1992. The new Constitution is expected to go into force before the presidential and legislative elections of 2015.
However, discussions designed to obtain people’s views on the new Constitution kicked off while seemingly many Tanzanians are not aware of the contents of this basic law.
This observation was also made by the commission’s chairman Mr Warioba at a news conference in Dar es Salaam during the first phase of views collection exercise which covered several regions in the country. Nevertheless, efforts have been undertaken by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Katiba Forum and others to enlighten the population on the purpose and contents of the Constitution to create informed participants in the ongoing discussions.
To augment these efforts, this article highlights hereunder the contents of the current Constitution as a guide to our readers and other people intending to meet the Constitutional Review Commission. The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania 1977 has a total of 10 chapters.
These chapters are as follows: Chapter One deals with fundamental principles and the basic philosophy of Tanzania. It’s divided into three parts, namely Part One which says Tanzania is one state and is a sovereign republic and describes what entails the country’s territory. While Part Two of this chapter details the fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy, Part Three describes the basic rights and duties of the citizenry. Civil rights include the right of equality before the law, the right to life, the right to freedom of conscience, and the right to work.
Civil duties entail participation in lawful and productive work, conforming to laws of the land, safeguarding public property, defending and protecting the country’s independence as well as its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Chapter Two to Six deal with the three pillars of state power, namely the Executive, the Judiciary and the Legislature.
These chapters also spell out functions of each pillar. Chapter two, divided into three parts, makes provisions for the Executive pillar of the United Republic, namely the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Offices of Vice-Presidents; and Prime Minister, the Cabinet, and the government. Chapter Three dwells on the Legislative pillar and is also divided into three parts as follows:
• The existence of the Legislature of the United Republic of Tanzania, otherwise known as the Parliament.
• The existence of members of Parliament and how they are elected.
• Details the procedure, the powers and the privileges of Parliament.
Chapter Four which also deals with the three pillars of state power is a repeat of Chapter Three, but it mainly focuses on Zanzibar as part of the United Republic of Tanzania. It also consists of three parts as follows:
• Creation of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar and provision for its jurisdiction and task of enquiring into the conduct of any person to whom this section applies, in respect of the exercise (or abuse) by him/her. Of the functions or authority of this office.
• Establishment of the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council and spells out its responsibilities.
• The set up of the Zanzibar House of Representatives (or Parliament).
Chapter Five touches the third pillar of state power, namely the Judiciary, where in it establishes the court system of the United Republic of Tanzania and Zanzibar. It’s segmented as follows:
• Creation of the High Court of the United Republic of Tanzania.
• Provision for the establishment of magistrates and other judicial officers on Tanzania mainland; and creation of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC).
• Establishment of the High Court of Zanzibar.
• The institution of the Court of Appeal of the United Republic of Tanzania.
• Description of the process of the courts.
• The establishment of the special Constitutional Court of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Chapter Six details an institution known as the Permanent Commission of Enquiry (PCE), in other countries it is called “the Ombudsman”, which is tasked with responsibility for enquiring into the conduct of any person holding public office related to any abuses committed by him/her in the execution of duties. Chapter Seven takes into account the finances of the United Republic of Tanzania. It is divided into two parts as follows:
• Arrangements for the contribution to and allocation from the revenues of the United Republic of Tanzania. This part makes provision for the opening and maintenance of the a special account to be called “the joint finance account”, into which shall be paid all the monies contributed by the two governments in such proportions as shall be determined by the Joint Finance Commission, established herein. This commission to be appointed by the president is to consist of not more than seven members. Its functions are described in that section.
• Establishment of the Consolidated Fund as well as the other finances of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Chapter Eight deals with the establishment and prescription of the role and functions of Local Government Authorities (LGA). Chapter Nine dwells on the armed forces of the United Republic of Tanzania and the powers of the Commander-in-Chief of these forces. Chapter Ten, among other issues, deals with crucial miscellaneous provisions including the procedure for the resignation of any occupant of public office established by this Constitution. Participants in the discussions of this Constitution are allowed to suggest what they think should be improved, added or deleted in this document.