Tanzania Draft Charter Proposes Federal System, Vote Challenges

Tanzania’s new constitution would see the government adopt a federal structure and change the law to allow presidential-election results to be disputed in court, according to the draft document.

East Africa’s second-biggest economy will hold national elections next year. President Jakaya Kikwete, of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party that along with its predecessor, the Tanzania African National Union, has ruled since independence, is scheduled to step down after his two-term limit.

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda has said the government’s goal is to enact the new constitution in April to coincide with the 50th anniversary of a political union between the mainland, then known as Tanganyika, and the clove-producing archipelago of Zanzibar. The country, which has held four relatively peaceful elections since 1995, currently has a constitution dating to 1977.

The proposed charter would leave Tanzania’s union government with authority over seven issues, down from 22, including the currency and the central bank, national security and foreign affairs, with petroleum resources outside of the mandate. The charter aims to revive a mainland government, to be known as Tanganyika, and maintain the Zanzibar government, according to the draft published in the Dar es Salaam-based Mwananchi newspaper today.

Tanzania currently produces natural gas for domestic use and its estimated 46.5 trillion cubic feet of the resource that’s already been discovered could increase as explorers continue looking, Kikwete said this month. Oil and gas acreage under exploration is situated offshore Zanzibar as well as off the coast and on the mainland of Tanzania.

Presidential Challenge

The draft constitution also proposes that presidential candidates be allowed to challenge the ballot results at the High Court, and if the vote is found flawed then fresh elections will be held within 60 days after the ruling.

The draft, prepared by the country’s Constitutional Review Commission, is expected to be debated by lawmakers and a group of citizens representing special interest groups as early as next month. Once any changes are made, the charter needs to be put to a public referendum for final endorsement.

Several recommendations by government commissions since 1991 to create the three-level system of federal government to help distribute power and resources more evenly have failed, according to a research paper produced by the political science department at the University of Dar es Salaam.

“There has been a demand for three governments in Tanzania from different groups for a long time now,” Gaudence Mpangala, a governance expert from the University of Dar es Salaam, said in a phone interview from the commercial hub. “The constitution is not a product for the ruling party and therefore it cannot be an obstacle toward the new constitution.”

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