FORMER LEADERS’ BENCH WITH DAILY NEWS: Msuya’s constitution perspective

  • Constitution must protect the Union
  • Suggests for limitation of political rallies
  • Trimming number  of political parties

MZEE Cleopa David Msuya (92), the former Prime Minister and First Vice-President, has said the process of rewriting the constitution should be completed now and let the country move on.

Mr Msuya, who served as the PM for two presidents — Julius Nyerere and Ali Hassan Mwinyi, said the completion of the process and having a new Mother Law shows the country’s seriousness in dealing with its strategic issues.

“I told Professor [Rwekaza] Mukandala’s taskforce that this issue [rewriting of the constitution] has been debated year in, year out.

“It’s a loss of energy. Let’s get out of the way and get a new constitution now,” Mzee Msuya told the Tanzania Standard (Newspapers) Limited (TSN), team, during a special interview at his home village of Chomvu in Usangi, Mwanga District, Kilimanjaro Region on June 6th this year.

Mzee Msuya, who started working during the colonial era after graduating from Uganda’s Makerere University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (Administration), said he talked at length when Prof Mukandala’s taskforce sought his opinion.

The taskforce started to gather opinions from the public last March before recently presenting its findings to President Samia Suluhu Hassan in Dodoma, as the quest for constitutional review gathers pace.

The President, immediately after receiving the document, instructed the Registrar of Political Parties Judge Francis Mutungi, to convene a special meeting for the Political Parties Council to evaluate the implementation of recommendations by the taskforce formed to assess the political climate and the state multipartyism in the country.

The former nominated and later Mwanga Member of Parliament (MP) also served as Minister for Finance, and also Minister for Industry and Trade.

And, despite his advanced age; still, Mzee Msuya has got a sharp and intact mind, keeping abreast with current local and international affairs.

Mzee Msuya is highly regarded as the Father of Mwanga, due to his tireless efforts, as a resident and later an MP, to bring development to the district before and after splitting from Same District in 1980.

He was the first MP of Mwanga, and President Nyerere appointed him Prime Minister in 1980, automatically becoming the First Vice-President. He took over from Mr Edward Sokoine, who had gone for studies abroad.

He served until February 1983 and then vacated the post after Mr Sokoine returned from studies. Mr Sokoine later died in a car accident at Mazimbu area in Morogoro Region after serving for one year and 48 days.

After the death of Mr Sokoine, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim was appointed as the PM between April 1984 and November 1985. After the general election, the first without Mwalimu Nyerere, President Ali Hassan Mwinyi appointed Mr Joseph Warioba to the post, serving the entire first term.

However, when Mr Mwinyi won the second term in 1990, he appointed Mr John Malecela until December 1994, when he made a major cabinet reshuffle and reappointed Mzee Msuya as a PM and served until November 1995. Mzee Msuya is the last PM under a single-party rule and the last First Vice-President.

However, the constitution was amended in 1992 to pave the way for multiparty system and the First Vice-President position was discarded.

Under the current system, there is only one VP, who happens to be the president’s running mate.

Before Mwanga was split from Same District in 1980, Mzee Msuya wanted to run for Same constituency in 1975 but many came forward to contest for the constituency, including Chediel Mgonja and Peter Kisumo under Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) ticket. The constitution then allowed private candidates.

“Nyerere told me [Mr] Mgonja will collect massive votes, don’t contest. I will nominate you,” Mzee Msuya said, prompting him to take Mwalimu’s advice. At that time, he was a minister for finance and was nominated MP since 1972.

History of the country’s Constitution

According to Clyde & Co LLP, the constitutional history of Tanganyika traces its background from the 1961 independence constitution. In 1962 Tanganyika adopted the Republican constitution, which operated from 1962 to 1965.

“These two were based on the traditional Lancaster style constitutions negotiated at independence by the British upon handover of state powers to newly independent states,” Clyde & Co LLP report in 2014 said.

In 1964 Tanzania was born out of the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar. In 1965 Tanzania adopted an interim constitution while the country awaited the drafting of a new constitution after it abolished the multiparty political system and adopted a one-party state system.

The process took longer than intended and thus the interim constitution lasted from 1965 to 1977. In 1977 the constitution of Tanzania, the current document, was adopted.

The law firm report said the current constitution has remained in force to date, with 14 subsequent amendments.

The recent calls for constitutional change have been prompted by, among other things, the following two factors:

First, the need to have a constitution based on the wishes of the people as to how they want to live, a participatory constitution, and second to address the problems relating to the Union.

Thus, former President Jakaya Kikwete announced, during the 2011 New Year address, that he would form the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) to coordinate and supervise the constitution-making process in the country.

In April 2012, President Kikwete formed the CRC and appointed the former Attorney General and Prime Minister Joseph Warioba as its Chairman and the former Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani as its Vice-Chairman.

After gathering opinions throughout the country as to what should be included in the constitution, the CRC presented the first draft in June 2013, which was gazetted.

The first draft proposed that the United Republic should be a federation with three governments: The new government of Tanganyika, the government of Zanzibar, and the federal government.

But the Constituent Assembly (CA) changed the status to two governments’ Union and Zanzibar in its second draft. The opposition walked out of the CA.

“The problem I heard was that one of the opposition parties walked out. I told Prof Mukandala that this issue has taken too much time, let’s conclude it now,” Mzee Msuya said.

Mzee Msuya, who is an architect of the country’s industrialisation and its supporting institutions in the 1970s, said there have been some queries especially on how the National Election Commission (NEC) is operating.

“To simplify the work, we can work on this one item …that we want to set a system that will enable the commission to prevent any shortcomings and abuses in election process and once we rewrite the constitution, we’ll use the same article,” Mzee Msuya said.

Limitations on political rallies

He suggested that the right to hold political rallies after the election should have some sort of limitations. The Mother Law, he said should come clear on the time for a public rallies and time to work.

“A nation that wants to move forward, has to have a discipline for time to vote, understanding political party policies and time for people to work,” Mzee Msuya said, adding “and it is possible … let’s put a limit on this.”

He said since some opposition parties boldly want to conduct political rallies, it is equally wise by the government to let them continue, since the same claimed that they were banned to do so.

“I suppose CCM too, will continue holding the rallies…the challenge is if the Minister for Agriculture [Hussein Bashe] is mobilising youths to engage in farming…what others are mobilising people for,” Mzee Msuya asked.


“The other suggestions in the Warioba Commission should be taken with caution since it “may threaten to break the Union” …issues like adoption of federal government should be looked at carefully.

“The new constitution should put a redline that we are together in this forever … that the Union is here to stay and anyone attempting to break our Union should face the wrath of the laws.

“It’s like in the US. I don’t think Alaska may even dare to say they want independence, similar to Florida and other states. But here, we are just playing around,” Mzee Msuya said.

He said the areas that have some challenges in the Union should be ironed out and the Constitution should be sealed and strengthened..

“A redline should be in the Constitution that we are in this together and forever,” he insisted.

Women empowerment

Additionally, Mzee Msuya said the debate for women’s special seats has been going on for years, and it’s time to put it to an end by writing a constitution that will have criteria for them.

“Our friends in Nordic countries are surprised why our women are getting sweatless seats.

“We should work on criteria that enable them to contest in the constituencies, as running mates just like in president election or create special seats that they will contest among themselves in the provinces ‘majimbos’,” he advised.

The Parliament may stipulate a certain number of seats that should be contested by women, not providing them with free seats.

“That way, we will end this point of flattery, most of this type I don’t see their contribution,” he said. He was of the view that allocating a certain number of special seats that will be contested by women will contribute to having a fair and efficient arrangement of empowering women.

“People are talking about the economy and going to the moon, and we are still debating about road humps and impotency!!? This does not make sense,” he said, in reference to a woman MP who one day complained of an excessive number of road humps along Tunduma-Sumbawanga road that caused impotency to their husbands.

Number of political parties

Mzee Msuya, who rejected to work as a teacher after graduating from Makerere University, also advised that it was not healthy for the country to have numerous political parties.

“We have to agree on a formula which points out that if a party fails to garner a certain amount of votes after a general election, it should be deleted from the Registrar of Political Parties’ Book,” Mzee Msuya said.

The country has 21 registered political parties of which, only three have MPs in the current Bunge.

“We should not allow politics to look like a platform to cheat and enrich oneself…people have started saying so. We should put some control in trimming the long list of parties,” Mzee Msuya suggested.

He wondered what the Registrar of Political Parties is doing, allowing the long list of parties without clear social development strategies.

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