The team formed to conduct public consultations on democratic reforms in Tanzania, as the quest for constitutional review gathers pace, says it has completed making public consultations and is compiling the views into a document to be presented to President Samia Suluhu, and the public.
The task force, chaired by Prof Rwekaza Mukandala, has been gathering the views through face-to-face interviews and written submissions in both mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar since March this year.
Prof Mukandala did not specify how long the final compilation would take, saying only that it was “a big job that needs enough time to be done properly”.
The task force was formed by the Registrar of Political Parties last December year and comprises representatives of various political parties, civil society organisations, academicians, clerics, lawyers and media workers representative groups.
Its initial mandate was to look into opposition party demands for a new Tanzanian constitution to replace the current one of 1977 and the adoption of independent elections regulatory system to ensure a level political field in future polls after years of dominance by the ruling CCM party.
The task force has the backing of the Tanzania Centre for Democracy, a cross-party think-tank that includes CCM and leading opposition party ACT-Wazalendo.
But it lost the support of other major parties like Chadema and NCCR Mageuzi after it recommended in its preliminary report in March that the new constitution review process be postponed until after the next election in 2025.
After the controversy, the task force mandate was expanded to gather views on democratic reform. Still, proposals related to the constitutional review and independent electoral body have continued to form the bulk of views brought before it.
Former prime minister Joseph Warioba, who led a previous constitutional review processes that aborted, said that a “stronger political will” was required to restart the process afresh.
Former president Jakaya Kikwete, who formed a Constitutional Assembly that was later dissolved, said President Samia had made a “wise decision” in allowing the formation of the task force as a way of “reducing political tensions in the country.”
“My hope is that the goal of political reconciliation that this exercise is aiming for will eventually come to fruition,” he stated.
Other views collected included those of Tanzania’s former Chief Justice Mohamed Chande who told a press briefing after his September 7 session that he had proposed constitutional amendments to allow for presidential election results to be challenged in court, as is the case with parliamentary poll results.
Tanzania’s current constitution was adopted in 1977 when the country was still a one-party state and has remained the blueprint for successive national elections despite constant opposition demands for amendments that acknowledge the advent of multi-party politics in 1992.