In Tanzania, a scholar says popular support for a new constitution could end the dominance of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
The ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi, or “the party of the revolution” in Swahili, has been in power since independence from Great Britain in 1964.
Xavery Lwaitama, a political science professor at the University of Dar-Es Salaam, said some accuse President Jakaya Kikwete’s government of trying to control reform, a charge the administration denies.
“You need a new constitution that makes it possible for no single political party to govern for much longer than say…. 10 [or] 12 years,” said Lwaitama.
Last Saturday, Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said Tanzania will implement a new constitution a year ahead of the scheduled 2014 presidential and parliamentary elections.
In a government-issued press release, Pinda said the administration expects “the new constitution will be complete and ready for inauguration on April 26, 2014, when marking 50 years of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.”
But Lwaitama said the document does not reflect the aspirations of modern Tanzania.
“All of these constitutional amendments have not changed the basic premise of the immediate post-colonial constitutions.” said Lwaitama.” The main [problems is] the president has as much power as a [former colonial] governor.”
Analysts say a majority of Tanzanians have rallied around opposition groups demanding the new document, which they said will provide a level political playing field.
Critics contend that the current constitution enables the ruling party to continue its “overwhelming” dominance. They warn the government will face mass protests if it fails to weed out graft and fix the economy.
Lwaitama said President Kikwete has read the political climate well enough to make sure his CCM party is not seen as hindering reform.
“The agitation for a new constitution is partly a desire to have a new political class governing Tanzania,” said Lwaitama.” People are just clamoring for some change in the set of ….people who are running the country.”