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Tanzania: Why strong institutions are important

In this file photo of January 3, 2014, Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) Chairman Joseph Warioba displays copy of the Second Draft of the New Constitution during a meeting with Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) in Dar es Salaam. Tanzania’s plan to have a new constitution was stalled after no referendum was called. (FILE)

By Louis Kalumbia

As the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) clarified its advice to President Samia Suluhu Hassan on the need to promote good governance and build strong institutions during her leadership, experts yesterday reacted on the call.

Reading a speech during President Hassan’s meeting with the TEC bishops on Friday, the clerics’ leader Archbishop Gervas Nyaisonga advised the Head of State to promote the two values during her leadership. “We would like to request you to strengthen good governance and build strong democratic institutions that are the strong pillars of good governance,” read Archbishop Nyaisonga from his speech.

Yesterday TEC secretary general Charles Kitima clarified that the statement aimed at increasing citizen’s involvement in governing their country as per Article 8 of the country’s Constitution.

“Citizens are the ones with sovereignty, therefore building strong institutions that are transparent and provide authorities to people will promote proper governance of the country,” he told The Citizen over the phone.

He said separation of power among the Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary should promote their independence and that decisions made by the three should be received undoubted.

According to him, since Tanzania was a multiparty democracy, it was not right to have a Parliament dominated by legislators from one party, saying proper treatment to all political parties wouldn’t allow that to happen.

“Capacity building should be done for all political parties in order to enable citizens with ambitions to build the country through political positions to realize their dreams,” he said, adding: “We need strong political parties, but most importantly, involvement of citizens in leading the country.”

According to him, the bishops’ call also aimed to remind the government on significance of timely dispensing of justice, saying there were hopes for reinstatement of democracy in the country.

Ms Rose Mwakitwange of the Vuguvugu la Katiba (Vuka) said Tanzanians needed to stand firm and prevent individualization and that the presidency should remain an institution.

“Anybody assuming the top office shouldn’t take us back to individualism. That’s how Kenyans and the US succeeded,” she argued, adding: “That’s why I’m putting emphasis on the need for a people centred-constitution that will be the guiding principle for providing the country with strong systems and institutions.”

However, she said new constitution will need to be made a covenant to prevent arbitrary violations, calling on Tanzanians to get unite and demand for the document.

But, a lecturer at the University of Iringa (UoI), Dr Frank Kimaro, said Tanzania already has institutions, although their strength depended on the person in power.

“Institutions are the ones helping the President in appointing different leaders. However, there are times the President does the job individually,” he said, adding.

“Ex-President John Magufuli stood as a strong individual, but this weakens institutions because an individual will be making all decisions.”

According to him, empowered institutions supervise everything including strong individuals existing in the country.

Mr Kimaro said strong individuals and institutions rarely co-exist because while strong individual could promote crime and embezzlement, the later prevented.

Addressing the Ghanaian parliament on July 11, 2009, then US President Barack Obama said: “But history offers a clear verdict: Governments that respect the will of their own people, that govern by consent and not coercion, are more prosperous, they are more stable, and more successful than governments that do not.

“This is about more than just holding elections. It’s also about what happens between elections.”

This article was published by The Citizen.


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