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Jussa Calls for National Consultative Conference to Rid Tanzania of Constitutional Impasse

He says whether Tanzania needs the New Constitution or not is no longer a debatable issue.

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Dar es Salaam. Member of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party’s central committee Ismail Jussa has called for the National Consultative Conference that he thinks will be responsible for ridding Tanzania of the current constitutional impasse that is pitting key political actors against each other.

Mr Jussa, who once served as House of Representative in Zanzibar, made the call during a meeting with the presidential task force that interviews key stakeholders on ways to improve multiparty democracy in Tanzania. Monday was the turn of Mr Jussa, among other key players.

“We need to find ways that will get us out of the current [constitutional] deadlock that started during the Constituent Assembly,” Mr Jussa told the task force, according to the summary of his contribution seen by The Chanzo. “The way through which we can rid ourselves of this deadlock is convening the National Consultative Conference.”

Mr Jussa, who was a member of the Constituent Assembly, said the conference will involve various important groups that will work together in finding consensus on major issues that are contested as far as the content of the New Constitution is concerned.

“Whether Tanzania needs the New Constitution or not is no longer a debatable issue,” Mr Jussa, who is a lawyer by profession, reiterated the arguments that he has made on numerous occasions. “The New Constitution is needed now because all constitutions [that Tanzania] has ever had were not the result of citizens’ participation.”

Tanzania needs a New Constitution that is a result of citizens’ opinions as collected by the Constitutional Review Commission, Mr Jussa added.

He also suggested the formation of the Constitutional Experts Commission that would reconcile what is contained in the second draft of the constitution with the consensus that will be reached at the National Consultative Conference and prepare a Draft Constitution that will then be forwarded to the Constituent Assembly.

The idea of forming the Constitutional Experts Commission was also presented to the task force by the Tanzania Constitutional Forum, a Dar es Salaam-based think-tank on constitutional issues, which outlined a four-step process that it thinks can deliver the New Constitution before the general election of 2025.

Jussa said that the process of the New Constitution should go hand in hand with the process that seeks minimum reforms in the electoral system in the country.

He said this is important so that if the New Constitution is not delivered before 2025, legal and regulatory reforms that are important to deliver free and fair elections will come in handy.

The minimum reforms include the amendment of the National Elections Act and the Political Parties Act, among other laws, and align them with the international best practices on electoral management.

On the question of the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, Mr Jussa said: “The question of the Union should be resolved by sending the matter to the people of Zanzibar and Tanganyika where through a referendum they will decide whether or not they want the Union and if they do of what structures.”

Apart from Mr Jussa, the Rwekiza Mukandala-led task force will also have the opportunity to meet with veteran journalist Jenerali Ulimwengu on Monday who will also share his opinions on the best way to organise multiparty democracy in the country.

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