President Jakaya Kikwete formally received the draft of the new constitution on Wednesday, October 8. At a ceremony in Dodoma, Mr Kikwete and the president of Zanzibar, Ali Mohammed Shein, received copies of the draft from Samuel Sitta, chairman of the Constituent Assembly which drew up the draft. Several thousand people attended the ceremony, including foreign diplomats, and the handover was preceded by concerts and circus acts. Mr Kikwete said that the ceremony marked “the beginning of the final step that directly involves the people themselves,” meaning the referendum in which Tanzanians will be asked to approve the draft. A date for the referendum has not yet been announced – it previously seemed as though the referendum would only take place after the presidential and parliamentary elections which will take place in October 2015, but at the Dodoma ceremony Mr Kikwete said that one option was to have the referendum before that, “so that the next elections are held under the new constitution.” He said, however, that he had no intention of extending his own term, which is his last.
The draft that Mr Kikwete received this week is not uncontroversial. A number of Constituent Assembly members quit the drafting process in April, when it became clear that the Assembly was going to disregard the draft produced by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) of Judge Joseph Warioba. The ‘Warioba draft’ (as it has become known, as opposed to the ‘Sitta draft’ which the Assembly ultimately came up with) made provision for a tripartite government structure, with separate governments for Tanganyika, Zanzibar and the United Republic of Tanzania. The Sitta draft maintains the current two-government structure, in which the Dodoma government manages the affairs of both Tanganyika and the union, while the Zanzibar government is in charge of affairs that only affect the archipelago. Mr Warioba was not present at the ceremony; he cited personal reasons, but his absence is being seen as a mark of disapproval of the Constituent Assembly process.
Also on Wednesday, The Citizen reported that Finland’s ambassador to Tanzania, Sinikka Antila, had said that around TSh1trn in general budget support was being withheld pending clarity on payments to the tune of $122m from a Bank of Tanzania (BOT) escrow account to Pan Africa Power Solutions Tanzania Limited (PAP), after PAP bought Independent Power Tanzania Limited (IPTL). The case is a complicated one, involving several foreign companies which transferred shares to each other, so we expect the investigation by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) to take some time yet. Ms Antila, in her capacity as chair of the local group of Tanzania’s development partners, said that the partners would wait for the CAG’s report before making a decision on the budget support.
WHY DO WE CARE? The way in which the Constituent Assembly wrote a draft contrary to the recommendations of the Warioba Commission is a pity – that commission had consulted very widely with stakeholders in the country, and the draft it came up with was in line with the wishes of Tanzanians. That is not the case with the current draft, even though Mr Kikwete’s party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), managed to get it through the Constituent Assembly. The opposition, having walked out of the Assembly, will oppose the new draft, and the issue may drive separatist energies in Zanzibar, with potential effects on security across the country. The suspension of direct budget support is a more immediate worry. Dodoma had expected to receive TSh2.9trn in loans and grants from development partners in the 2014/15 fiscal year, so the TSh1trn in question is a hefty proportion of that. It amounts to more than 5% of the total budgeted expenditures. If it looks as though the government is delaying the release of the reports, we expect the opposition to begin a vocal campaign on the issue.