Lumumba to the rescue in Dodoma?

Tanzanian civil society organisations are working on initiatives to salvage the Constitution review, including bringing in Kenyan law expert Patrick Loch Otiendo Lumumba.

Tanzania’s hopes for a new basic law, whose coming into force was initially expected to coincide with festivities marking the country’s golden jubilee last month, suffered a setback after a section of delegates walked out of the process.

The bone of contention is the refusal by the dominant view to accept a proposed new three-tier structure that would bring back Tanzania and Zanzibar as partners in a federal state superintended by an overarching federal government.

Significantly for the ordinary Tanzanian, the draft also proposes expanded autonomy for Tanganyika and Zanzibar with the Union government losing control over 15 of the 22 areas it is currently responsible for. The draft also proposes a radical trimming of the powers of the head of state.

Coming against a backdrop of increased agitation for autonomy by the Isles, opponents of the three-tier structure possibly see it as a recipe for disaster. On the other hand, insistence on maintaining the status quo against the wider aspirations of Zanzibar will feed rather than quench the flames of discontent there.

In choosing Lumumba, the dissenting parties in Tanzania have probably made a choice that gives dialogue a chance. The impasse has come about because the various interests are looking at the draft proposals in terms of how much they take away from them and give to the other side.

A possible message Lumumba could carry to the parties is that the constitution is for posterity and that each of the choices before them has a political and financial cost.

SOURCE: The East African