Tanzania: 'Proposed Constitution not people-centred, bears no 50-50 representation'

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Tanzania began her Constitution making process in 2011. Citizens hoped that the process would give them transformational Mother Law; to enhance true gender balance, credible, effective and accountable public leadership from grassroots to the national levels.

The citizens had envisaged that the new Constitution, for example, would not only endorse equal; 50-50 representation of women and men in decision making organs but also include articles guiding the realisation of the same through fair electoral ground for women and men contestants.

According to the Constitution Reform Act the Constitution making process consists of four major phases; gathering of views from citizens, Draft Constitution, Constitutional Assembly and the Referendum. 

The first three phases have been completed and the proposed Constitution was 'approved' by the Constitutional Assembly on 2nd October 2014; ready for citizens’ final determination through the Referendum, slated for April 2015. 

However, the proposed Constitution lacks national consensus because more than 80 percent of the members of the Constitutional Assembly (CA) were politicians from the ruling party-Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).

Their fellow CA members from Civic United Front (CUF), Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA), NCCR-Mageuzi, Democratic Party (DP) and National League for Democracy (NLD)  walked out  clamming that CCM  had decided to abandon citizens' views articulated in the Draft Constitution.

Interestingly, the Draft Constitution prepared by the Constitution Commission led by the retired Judge Joseph Warioba based on citizens’ views collected countrywide, had put a provision for 50-50 representation and modalities for realisation of the same.

Arguably, the Warioba Draft had proposed a transformational modality that would not only ensure 50-50 representation in Parliament, but also bring into power, competent and credible women and men representatives.

The Warioba Draft had proposed only two types of representations; first, the representatives elected from constituencies, and representatives appointed by the President from people with disability.

Indeed, to ensure true equal representation of women, the Warioba Draft chapter nine, part one, section 113, sub section (3) stipulates that each electoral constituency shall have one woman and one man representative.

The modality, would force political parties to nominate capable and credible men and women from their respective constituencies to contest and equally support them to win the post.

Furthermore, the modality, would force transformation to pave the way for competent ordinary women and men, young and old, especially from their own areas  to become representatives in their respective constituencies; ending the current trend of having representatives deemed by their own citizens as ''tourists'' because they live in towns and cities and rarely go back to their constituencies.

However, analysis of the proposed Constitution indicates that the important article that would put to an end the current lousy and non-gendered representation was dropped.

Surprisingly, the new modality in the proposed Constitution is tailored to favour people in power to continue enjoying the national cake with their relatives, cronies and political allies.
Experiences show that public leadership as a national resource in Tanzania is largely affected by patriarchy and class philosophy.

Although  in 1992, more than two decades ago, the country re-introduced multi-party politics, electoral posts to-date are largely dominated by men and few women from the ruling Party-CCM.

According to Parliamentary list published in May 2014, out of 357 representatives in the Parliament, 265 (74 percent)  are from CCM   and only 92 (26 percent) are from the opposition parties-CUF, CHADEMA, NCCR-Mageuzi, Tanzania Labour Party (TLP)  and United Democratic Party (UDP).

Yet, political culture in the country encourages party members to safeguard interest of their respective parties than anything else. As a result, it is common for representatives from the ruling party to protect the government even where billions of money have been stolen.

For example huge sum of public funds have been stolen through scandals involving External Payment Account (EPA) in the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), Deep Green Financial Limited, Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL)-Escrow and radar.

Surprisingly, the important article contained in the Warioba Draft, to empower representatives to hold the government accountable for wrong doings; was not incorporated in the proposed Constitution.

Actually, the article in the Warioba Draft would ensure that representatives safeguard the interests of the electorates and the country more than the interest of their respective political parties to ensure that no public money or resources are accessed by unscrupulous leaders.

The Warioba Draft Section 129 (1) (a) stipulates that citizens can recall their representative if she/he supports policies which are against the interests of the electorates and the nation at large.
Obviously, the formula of obtaining representatives contained in the proposed Constitution was strategically crafted by the politicians in power to maintain the status quo and allow unscrupulous leaders continue with their wrong doings unchallenged. Yet the ill acts cost the country's development gravely.

Indeed, the modalities of getting representatives in the proposed Constitution encourages patriarchy, status quo and non-credible people-women and men to become representatives.

Chapter ten, part one, section 129 of the proposed Constitution stipulates that there will be five types of representatives.  The first bunch of representatives will be elected by citizens in their constituencies. According to subsection (2) (a) and (4) representatives will be elected from constituencies announced by the Electoral Commission based on equal representation of women and men.

The second group are representatives appointed by the sitting president. Five representatives would be appointed from the community of people with disability. Others are the Attorney General and Speaker in case she/he would have not been elected from among the elected representatives.

However, analysis of the proposed Constitution suggests that the modality put forward to get the representatives shall not make Tanzania realise 50-50 representation in Parliament.

Yet, Tanzania is a signatory of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Gender and development protocol that requires each member country to have attained 50 percent women in parliament by 2015.

Infact, equal representation of women and men with and without disability in Parliament is unlikely through the proposed constitution for obvious reasons.

Firstly, five representatives with disability, if divided equally, cannot give equal number of women and men.

Secondly, the proposed constitution does not have an article demanding that within the ten representatives to be appointed by the president, five should be women and representing which group of women since social construction of gender suggests that women are not homogeneous.

Thirdly, maximum number of representatives required in Parliament is 390. Simple calculation shows that speaker, attorney general, five people with disability and ten presidential appointees combined make 17 representatives. Deducting the 17 representatives from 390 equals  373.

What formula can the Electoral Commission ever apply to get equal number of women and men representatives from 373?
Indeed, this contradiction would easily be dealt with if the proposed Constitution would adopt the formula contained in the Warioba Draft- that a constituency would have woman and man representative.

Interestingly, the Warioba Draft had proposed only 75 representatives for the Union Assembly, a slim number to save the huge sum of money spent to service representatives; majority of whom are ineffective because of the mode used to bring them to power. 

By May 2014 the Union Assembly had 357 representatives. Out of them 127 (36 percent) were women, 106 obtained through special seats and 21 elected by electorates in electoral constituencies.
Gender activists and citizens in general countrywide, have had over years complained that the number of representatives is too big and should be reduced to cut costs.

At the Council level, the last general elections held in 2010 brought women representation to 35 percent. However, at the local level-village and mitaa, where violation of women's rights occurs, representation of women is negligible.  According to 2009 local government elections, women village/mitaa chairs increased from 200 in 2004 to 800 in 2009 making less than one percent out over 12,000 village heads.

Importantly, the country was able to attain 30 percent women representation by 2010 because the current (1977) Constitution had stipulated the modality to get them-special seats and constituencies.

Notably, abandoning the modality contained in the Warioba Draft, means that the Electoral Commission can design a formula that may end up not bringing up gender balance and  favouring women who are relatives, cronies and political allies of powerful men even if they are not competent and educated; critical factors for effective and credible representative.

Perhaps, that was the reason the Constitutional Assembly composed mostly one party- CCM cadres  endorsed in the proposed Constitution  chapter 10, part two Section 140 (b) that the qualification of representative to be the ability to read and write English and Kiswahili. 

Really, can a non-educated representative brought into power through favouritism make a meaningful and critical contribution?  Can such a representative for example freely and intelligently make a contribution on matters concerning budgets, laws and policies?

Yet, the proposed Constitution threw away another very important article contained in the Warioba Draft enabling representatives scrutinise resource contracts which the government ministries enter with foreign investors to ensure the country's resources benefit the locals and not the foreigners alone.

This would reduce dubious deals including mining, forestry, land, fishing, wildlife harvesting and many others.  The government could use the money saved from these deals to provide free social services-clear and safe water, electricity, roads, quality education to all, better health services including maternal health- good things, human rights incorporated in the proposed Constitution but the same constitution says cannot be demanded in the court of law.

Today, for example, user-fee in education have had a negative impact on girls from poor backgrounds in both rural and urban areas. Likewise user-fee has had negative bearing to the poor people’s access to health services including maternal health.  The country Millennium Development (MDGs) report indicates that more than 5,000 women die annually from preventable maternal complications.

Moreover, the proposed Constitution rejected a proposal contained in the Warioba Draft to separate the functions of the ministers from those of Members of Parliament.
This, not only allows favouritism in the use of national resources, but also compromises performance and accountability- in both the government and Parliament.

By not including into the proposed Constitution modalities of getting competent gender balance representatives; giving parliament the power to hold the government accountable to fulfil its responsibilities, bringing to the General Assembly resource contracts for public scrutiny and denying electorates the power to recall their representatives, the proposed Constitution adds insignificant value to the majority of the citizens of Tanzania.

Hence, the women and men from all walks of life including gender activists such as Women and Constitution Coalition (Mtandao wa Wanawake na Katiba) as well as development partners (donors)  ought to know that the proposed Constitution contains mostly, cosmetic changes, which cannot transform the miserable life of majority of the people in Tanzania.

Therefore, there is no good reason for any individual or group to celebrate the cosmetic changes in the proposed Constitution even if huge public money had been spent in the process as well as  donor money to conduct advocacy meant to ensure rights of women are incorporated accordingly. Instead, any person, social groups and development partners committed to see a true transformed new Tanzania (Tanzania Mpya), needs to go back to the drawing table.

In the end, collectively, we need to come up with new strategies for the realisation of people-centred Constitution.  The envisaged people's Constitution should give the country strong and effective public decision-making organs; Councils and Parliament. The organs should then be able to hold the government accountable.

In so doing the government will be forced to design people-centred policies, laws, plans and allocate enough resources to implement them.

Indeed, it is only the Constitution by the people and for the people that shall endorse articles that can transform the country to get 50-50 representation in decision making organs from the village to national level and make a reality all other human rights including women's rights. God Bless Tanzania.

Ananilea  Nkya is  the former Tanzania Media Women's Association Executive Director, currently PhD student . E-mail:ananilea_Nkya@yahoo.com: Mobile +255 754 464368