Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD) was on Tuesday finally able to organise its so-called justice, peace and reconciliation conference in the capital Dodoma after having been postponed at least twice due to logistical challenges.
The conference – which drew participation from political parties, civil society, the diplomatic community and religious institutions – is part of the national process aimed at examining the status of multiparty democracy in Tanzania with the goal of making it serves the best interests of the country.
The process – which takes place under the auspices of the TCD and the Council of Political Parties – is spearheaded by President Samia Suluhu Hassan who seems to be determined to chart a different path for Tanzania than that left by her predecessor John Magufuli.
Inaugurating Tuesday’s conference, President Samia said: “Tanzania cannot be built by one political party. The function of many political parties is to see what is going on and to give opinions to the government and our task is to engage you in those issues. I promise to engage you.”
Two pieces of legislation are of concern to members who participated in the two-day conference, which is expected to give recommendations on how to improve them: the National Elections Act and the Political Parties Act.
Already two model bills have been prepared with assistance from the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) and if successfully turned into laws, stakeholders think, the bills will go a long way in ensuring free and fair elections in Tanzania.
The conference, however, took place against the boycott from opposition parties CHADEMA and NCCR-Mageuzi that have ruled out taking part in any process that will fail to deliver the New Constitution to Tanzanians before 2025.
The ongoing government-backed process, of which Tuesday conference is part, has ruled out the possibility of getting the New Constitution before 2025, with its key players arguing that now is too short a time to get the document before the general election.
The task force formed by the Registrar of Political Parties to recommend to President Samia reforms to be taken to improve multiparty democracy in Tanzania has postponed the revival of the New Constitution writing process to after 2025.
The task force’s priorities, for now, are legislative reforms that aim at improving the electoral management mechanisms in Tanzania that would help deliver what it believes to be a free and fair election in 2025. Thus the two bills which are at the centre of today’s conference.
Speaking during the conference, the outgoing TCD chairperson who doubles as the leader of the opposition ACT Wazalendo party Zitto Kabwe, said the meeting is expected to heal various injuries that had occurred in the past, and that from the meeting they expect to focus on making recommendations for some law reforms.
“This conference will focus on proposing amendments to the two laws which are certainly the widely discussed laws,” said Mr Kabwe. “Those laws are the law of political parties and the law of elections.”
Lukelo Francis is a Dar es Salaam-based The Chanzo’s correspondent. He is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.