Tanzania: Ruling Party Dismisses Latest Calls for Constitutional Change

Tanzania’s ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), has dismissed fresh calls for amendments to the country’s constitution.

The opposition camp and other activists have been calling for constitutional reforms that would allow for the formation of an Independent Electoral Commission so as to level the political playing ground.

Shaka Hamdu Shaka, CCM’s new ideology and publicity secretary, said on Tuesday that the constitutional agenda is not on the priority list of President Samia Suluhu Hassan just as was the case with her predecessor John Magufuli.

Mr Shaka, who was addressing a congregation of elderly citizens in Tanga, said there were more important governance issues to deal with other than constitutional amendments.

He stressed that the Samia administration is focussing more on fulfilling economic goals for the country.

Opposition politicians, clerics, civil society actors and other citizens have long demanded for the resumption of a constitutional change process that was stopped unexpectedly in 2014.

CCM included the constitutional reforms agenda in its 2015 general election manifesto, but it was promptly and publicly cast aside by President Magufuli once elected, and did not appear at all in the ruling party’s 2020 election manifesto.

The basic law or katiba in Swahili has been the subject of persistent controversy and contestation since the adoption and inclusion of the multi-party democratic system of government in the country in 1992.

The last constitutional amendments were passed in 1977.

Opposition parties have placed the issue of constitutional reform top of their demand list as they prepare for new political dialogue with the Samia administration.

“We declare 2021 as the year to revive the new constitution writing process that will enable us to cure past and present wounds,” Freeman Mbowe, the chairman of the main opposition Chadema party, said in a recorded New Year video message months before Magufuli’s March 17, 2021 death.

Similar statements had been made even earlier by the leaders of the ACT-Wazalendo and Civic United Front (CUF) parties.

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