A new proposed constitution would also impact the autonomous government in Zanzibar , amid calls by some islanders to end to the 50-year union with the mainland. Tanganyika
The Future of the Union.
In APRIL 26 Tanzanians will celebrate the 51th anniversary of the union between mainland Tanganyika and the islands of Zanzibar. In honour of the occasion, the East African nation came together to rewrite its 1977 constitution. But instead of strengthening the union, the process may be tearing it apart. A draft based on public consultations was rewritten by a constitutional assembly dominated by members of the ruling Party of the Revolution (CCM). Opposition parties abandoned the process amid allegations of intimidation and abuse. Their protest was dealt with harshly: opposition members have been arrested and the leader of the main opposition party, Chadema, was summoned for questioning by police.
At the centre of the dispute is Zanzibar’s desire for greater autonomy. At the moment Zanzibar has its own semi-autonomous government, but many islanders feel that the mainland still wields far too much power. The Constitutional Review Commission, which held public consultations and wrote a working draft of the new constitution, found that at least 60% of Zanzibaris were unhappy with the terms of the union. It proposed more autonomy.
Rather than the two-tier status quo, the commission proposed implementing a three-tier structure with semi-autonomous governments for both mainland Tanganyika and Zanzibar, and an overarching Tanzanian government.
The ruling party argued this would lead to increased demands for Zanzibari independence and the eventual dissolution of the union. Critics claim that CCM is opposed to the new structure because it would make it more difficult for it to retain power.
The dust-up over Zanzibar has overshadowed a number of improvements to the constitution, in the areas of human rights and gender equality. However, critics say that not enough has been done to limit the president’s powers. Provisions for a limited tenure for members of parliament, mechanisms for recall, elections and an independent public service commission—which had all been suggested by the review commission—failed to make it into the final draft.