This is an opinion piece I wrote for the East african Newspaper last year. Deja vu? In light of Chadema power wrangles, this article provides some hindsight!
Reading the East African (Jan 9-15, 2012) on ‘Why bitter opposition power struggles benefit ruling CCM’ reignited the debate on the need for formulating a new constitution in Tanzania. The piece unearthed the most pertinent issues that ail Tanzania’s current constitution. Contemporary democratic constitutions world over have served as foundations for progress and development. The current constitution has numerous loopholes, give excess powers to the head of state and lacks a proper checks and balance mechanism within the three arms of government. The constitution has failed to provide a comprehensive law in the area of political parties which the author explored in the issue.
A Political Parties Act is one fundamental piece of legislation that mould society, economy and political participation, which is a prerequisite for democracy and good governance. The recent wave of expulsion of party members by their political parties in the opposition on various grounds and the clear lack of consensus on the consequences of such a move by various stakeholders such as the Registrar of Political Parties’ office, political parties themselves and the judiciary is a sign of a weak political parties law. The ruling party may be a beneficiary of the internal squabbles of the opposition parties, but it is imperative upon all stakeholders in the constitutional review process to put national interests first. Such a review requires patriotism and unity. Nurturing a progressive liberal democracy starts with building strong ideologue political parties and civil institutions. Let this be a challenge to all players in the constitution review process.