President Samia reactivates the new Katiba process:A living example of a genuine, positive, political will

THE reactivation of the new constitution writing process, was the ‘great good news’ that hit the print media headlines during the weekend of the first week of this month; when they were reporting the outcome of the President’s meeting with the relevant political leaders at Chamwino State House in the Capital City Dodoma, on Saturday, 6th May, 2023; which, in effect, formally reactivated the process of writing a new Constitution of the United Republic.

As usual, the media had contacted a selection of political commentators, asking them   to express their opinions on the matter; and they were all positively enthusiastic about the President’s action.  All of that is, indeed, well and good; and a clear demonstration of President Samia’s  ‘positive political will’to achieve the desired results in her political reconciliation efforts.

‘Political will’ is the most essential factor in all political processes, because it is the factor which determines whether a given political process will actually succeed, or fail.

In my article of Thursday, 4th May, 2023 in this column, I discussed the probability of the ‘three-government’  Union structure  being a cause for the breakup of our  Union, which is  otherwise quite  stable under the ‘two-government’  unique structure that was designed by our founder-fathers,  Presidents Julius Nyerere of Tanganyika, and Amani Abeid Karume of Zanzibar; and  I also  referred to the  crucial role of the ‘positive political will’  that was dis played by President Karume; which actually  saved the situation.

The role of ‘positive political will’, is the subject matter of today’s presentation; in which we will discuss the proposition that “the positive political will of the Apex political leader, is what determines the success, or failure, of any given political process”. And I will make reference to two outstanding examples in our own jurisdiction; which  may provide   proof of this  assertion.  These are:  (i)  the history of the failed  ‘new constitution’ writing process;  and (ii) the failed process of building Ujamaa (socialism).

 (i)   The failure of all previous attempts to  make  a  new  ‘multiparty constitution’.                                                                                                                                               

The current generation Tanzanians are most probably unaware, that the proposal for writing a totally new country’s constitution, emerged for the first-time way back in early 1962; during the discussions for the enactment of the ‘Tanganyika Republican Constitution’ of 1962.   This was the only such attempt which succeeded.  At that time, the procedure in such matters was for the government to issue what was known as a “Government white Paper” (an inheritance from British conventions and practices).   Thus, in May 1962, “Government White Paper no.1 of 1962” was published, which was titled “Proposals of the Tanganyika Government for a Republic”.  But the said ‘White Paper’ had suggested ‘the making of appropriate amendments to the existing ‘Independence Constitution of 1961. However, this was subsequently abandoned, when the government opted for the enactment of an entirely new constitution.

I have good reasons to believe, that Mwalimu Nyerere’s influence must have been the major contributor to  the government’s change of mind.  For, although Nyerere was at that material time out of office, following his voluntary resignation from the Premiership only one month after independence; but, in reality, he was effectively in charge of the country’s political affairs, in his capacity as President of the ruling party TANU.

And in this specific matter of enacting a new constitution, Mwalimu Nyerere’s himself had clearly articulated his ‘disenchantment’ with the “imported” Independence constitution; when  he stated that “the British have no business  in making a constitution for another  independent country.  That is solely the business  of the people of that country themselves”.

He made that observation in March, 1961, soon after the British sponsored ‘Tanganyika Independence constitutional conference’ had completed its business.

He had deliberately refrained from arguing the contents of that ‘imported’ constitution with the British delegation on that ground (that ‘the British had no business to participate in the making of another independent country’s constitution)’.  His greatest need at that conference was to agree on the date of Tanganyika’s independence; which he wanted to be before the end of that year 1961.   And he was completely satisfied when this was agreed to.  According to him making a new ‘home-made’ constitution would be the first business to be undertaken after independence had been achieved.

In these circumstances, it would be reasonable to presume that he must have ‘advised’  the government of Prime Minister Rashidi Kawawa, to  abandon their  “White Paper” proposal  of  simply  “making amendments to the existing constitution”;  and made them  agree instead, to introduce a totally new constitution”   This is discernable  from  the words used by the Prime Minister in moving the motion for the second reading of the relevant Bill, in which he said the following:- “Mr. Speaker, this constitution has been prepared in accordance with the proposals contained in Government White Paper no, 1 of 1962. Although that Paper had referred to the making of amendments to the existing constitution, we have thought it best to substitute a completely new and self-contained document, to mark such a fundamental change”.

That proposed constitutional change was, indeed, truly fundamental; considering the fact that it was a transformation from the British type “Dominium“  status, wherein the  British Monarch continued  to be the ‘Head of State’ of independent Tanganyika; while the country’s  Prime Minister  only took the second place,  as ‘Had of Government’. Thus, the need for a new constitution was obvious, and necessary.

Enter the second-phase government

Then came the second-phase government of President Ali Hassan Mwinyi.  It was during his time in office that “the wind of change” to multi-party politics started blowing worldwide. It actually began in Eastern Europe;  where, towards the end of 1989,  the powerful country then known as  the “Union of Soviet Socialist  Republics” (USSR); suddenly disintegrated, as a result of strong  majority demands for  the introduction of  a more democratic multi-party system.  Such demands quickly spread to many of the countries of Africa,  which had been governed under the ‘single-party’ political system, and  in some of the cases, this led to violence, and even  the  death of innocent people.   Here is where the issue of “positive political will” comes in.  President Mwinyi and the ruling party CCM, had that ‘positive political will’, which moved them  to initiate action to consult the people of Tanzania; whether, or not, they would be willing to change to a multi-party political system.  The results thereof, are well documented in some of my previous articles in this column.  But for the benefit of our new readers, I may just say that the majority (i.e 80 per cent)  of those who were interviewed by the  Nyalali Presidential commission, actually  dismissed  the proposed change to multi-party politics.  But wiser council prevailed, and the decision was eventually  taken  to make that inevitable change.

However, it was somehow puzzling, that when this  (equally fundamental)  change occurred, namely that of the transition from the ‘single-party’ to the ‘multi-party’ political dispensation,  the need for a new constitution was  either ignored, or surprisingly overlooked; and the government chose the option of merely  introducing amendments to the existing constitution.

I was myself of the opinion that this fundamental transition would qualify for a new constitution; but when the government chose the alternative of only amending the existing constitution; and the demand for a new constitution then became the opposition parties priority  agenda.

These demands were routinely ignored; apparently because the “positive political will” to listen to opposition demands was just lacking.  But in the light of this  Opposition parties  action,                                                                                                                                I had to support the government of my  own party; in faithful adherence to the CCM membership oath: “Nitakuwa mwaminifu kwa Chama changu, na  kwa Serikali yake”.

The Fourth –phase government.

It was the fourth-phase government of President Jakaya Kikwete,  which came up  with the strong determination to listen to these opposition demands, and actually initiated the process of writing a new constitution; another demonstration of the Apex leader’s ‘positive political will’.  President Kikwete  appointed the “Warioba constitutional Review Commission”, which was assigned to undertake  this important task.  It should be noted, that this was a wholly Presidential action, and the ruling party organs were not involved in the making of this decision. I was the party’s Vice Chairman for Mainland Tanzania at the material time, and I can well remember some senior party members actually questioning the need for a new constitution, when our established tradition  was  only  to make  any necessary  amendments to the existing constitution, whenever the need arises.   But, eventually, even President Kikwete’s bold initiative failed to bear fruit,  when the process  was halted before its  completion;  when the fifth-phase government took over.

Enter President John Pombe Magufuli

The opposite of ‘positive’ is ‘negative’. There is no doubt at all that, in this matter of a ‘new constitution’, President  Magufuli had  a clear ‘negative political will’; when he declared that the processing of a new constitution “was not his priority; as he had more important development issues  that preoccupied his mind”; namely the mega infrastructures which he had embarked upon, and of which we are presumably all aware.

His predecessor, President Kikwete, had introduced a new stage in the constitution making process, which was the holding of a referendum; in order  to enable the people as a whole, to give their approval  and consent to that document.   This was completely new, since all the previous processes had always terminated with the constituent Assembly deliberations and approval.

And, in fact,  this costly referendum exercise was another issue  which  some CCM big wigs had not supported.   And this was precisely the issue to which President Magufuli refused to give priority.

Then, by simple operation of the constitution of the United Republic; the sudden death of President John Pombe Magufuli  in March 2021, brought the then  Vice President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, to the  Presidency; and,  as she has now  clearly  demonstrated,  she  came in  with that  needed  ‘positive political will’  in great abundance.  She has now embarked on re-activating the process of making a new multiparty constitution of the United Republic; and all relevant indicators seem to point to the successful achievement of this objective.

(ii)  The  failed process of building  Ujamaa

This was President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s political project, which he inaugurated in February, 1967; through the publication (and initial vigorous implementation) of the Arusha Declaration policy document.  In respect of this issue, President Nyerere had the requisite “positive political will” to have this policy implemented, and he personally went to very great length to have that policy implemented; but his immediate successor in office,  appeared not to have the same ‘positive political will’; and, consequently, the implementation of the jamaa policy was put in  permanent abeyance.

This was the result of a meeting of the CCM National Executive Committee,  which was held in Zanzibar in February 1991, under the Chairmanship of President Ali Hassan Mwinyi; which approved a new document titled  “Mwelekeo wa sera za Uchumi za CCM katika Miaka ya Tisini”.

The ‘positive political will’ to build  Ujamaa,  had virtually disappeared.                                                             This easily confirms the contention,  that ‘the success, or failure, of any political process, depends almost entirely on  the ‘positive will’ of the Apex leader”.   /0754767576.

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