Tanzania's hesitant and disjointed constitutional reform process

Tanzania's hesitant and disjointed constitutional reform process

There is a lack of genuine commitment to multiparty democracy among ruling elites

The paper examines the process of constitutional transition that has been taking place in Tanzania since 1989 .The paper argues that the single most important problem in Tanzania today is the lack of a clear and demonstrated commitment to democratization reflected in a deliberately hesitant transition strategy.

Written before the October 2000 elections, the paper examines the claims of opposition parties that they have been suppressed by the ruling CCM, which appears determined to hold onto power at all costs.

The paper examines in detail the following propositions:

  • That the ruling party has in some cases become stronger, thus further weakening and marginalising the new parties
  • That the political party as the critical institution undergirding pluralist democracy is under threat in the SADC countries in general
  • That long-term sustainable democracy is impossible without vibrant political parties with competing policy alternatives

The paper discusses the background to the political situation in Tanzania and the various commissions and committees established to amend the constitution. These are presented in tabular form.

The paper concludes that the constitution-making process suggests a pattern which is disjointed without being incremental and does not therefore lead to the resolution of some of the contentious issues. The paper suggests that more work is needed if democracy is to be nurtured and consolidated, and offers several suggestions as to the way forward. [author]

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