My wild guess: the three-tier government union structure proposal will be shot down in the Constituent Assembly

Written by Kitila Mkumbo, PhD

As in sports, the outcome of politics, and democracy in particular, is determined quantitatively, not qualitatively. It is the numerical strength that matters the most. The qualitative arguments may be interesting and convincing, just like in sports the way manoeuvring is entertaining, but at the end of the day it is the number of votes one gets that matters, as it is in sports where it is the number of goals that finally count, not the manoeuvring.

Thus, as we head towards the big show in the Bunge la Katiba, we should be interested in what the numbers tell us in the big issues of the day. This is none other than the form of the Union Government. It is unfortunate that this is the issue that is going to be at the focus of the discussion. It is not that other issues are not important; no, far from it. It is partly because there are no serious disagreements about many of the proposals on the Warioba second draft, and partly because politicians have deliberately focused on this question more than on any other issue in the draft constitution. And because the Bunge la Katiba will be heavily dominated by politicians we should expect the union question to be at the centre of discussion.

Every issue will be decided on the basis of the vote. So let us see what is likely to happen with regard to the union issue. We already know the position of the big parties on this matter. CCM are fervently supporting the present two-tier government and they are winning support from highly respected sections in the society, including the powerful Catholic Church and the BAKWATA. CHADEMA and CUF are clear with their support for a three-tier government, a position that seems to be supported by many civil society organisations and academics. What does this mean in terms of which position will take the day in the Constituent Assembly? Lets see how things are likely to unfold.

The Constituent Assembly is constituted by the members of the Union Parliament and those of the Zanzibar Representative Council, plus the 201 nominated members by the president presumably representing their respective organisations and institutions.  CCM has 254 members in the Union Parliament and 28 members in the Zanzibar Representative Council totalling 276.  CHADEMA and CUF have respectively 48 and 34 members in the Union Parliament, while CUF has 22 members in the Zanzibar Representative Council.  This gives a total of 104 members of CUF and CHADEMA in the Constituent Assembly. Assuming that other opposition parties will also support the three-tier government structure (of course we know UDP and TLP are unlikely), we end up with a total of 110 members of the opposition political parties in the Assembly (adding 4 for NCCR and 1 each for TLP and UDP).  Mathematically, this translates into 71.5 percent for CCM members in the Constituent Assembly compared to 28.5 percent for the opposition political parties. At this level you can clearly see that the CCM has the numbers to determine the shape of the New Constitution.

What about the presumably neutralisers, the 201 nominated members? Ideally, these members are expected to be the most objective and their arguments and final decision will not be determined by party position. But how realistic is this expectation now that we know who has been nominated and who has not been? Well, I have done small calculations here to get some ideas. My simple analysis indicates that these members are far from being free from political party inclinations. Here is why.

I have divided the nominated members into three categories: those that I term straightforward pro CCM and/or 2 tier government structure (labelled as C2), those that I term straightforward pro opposition and/or 3 tier government (labelled as OP3), and those whose their position could not be identified at the moment (labelled as UN-for unknown). My methodology was rather simple. I randomly interviewed a cross-section of the representatives of the organisations and institutions where the nominated members are coming from both in the Tanzania Mainland and in Zanzibar.  I managed to get interviewees from NGOs, religious institutions, political parties, education institutions, people with disabilities, trade unions and those that have been termed “watu wenye malengo yanayofanana”. I have termed this group ‘Like Minded Individuals’ (whatever this means).  I did not get interviewees from representatives of fisheries, pastoralists and farmers associations. Very few people seem to know these people. For this reason I have removed these groups from my analysis. Thus, my analysis is based on 161 members and a total of 40 members are excluded from the analysis and their possible inclination will only be inferred.

Of the 20 members of NGO representatives, 65 percent can be said to be in the category of C2, 15 percent in the category of OP3 and the remaining proportion their position is unknown at the moment. With the religious institutions, of the 20 members, 40 percent are C2 and 35 percent OP3. Nevertheless, this figure needs to be interpreted cautiously because the two big leaders of these institutions have issued their stand. Polycarp Pengo of the Catholic Church and leaders of BAKWATA are on record to have criticised those supporting the three government structure. Quintessentially, this is the position of these two religious groupings. As such, their members in the Constituent Assembly are likely to go by the position of their leaders. Of the 42 representatives of political parties, 45 percent can be identified as C2 and 26 percent as OP3, while the position of the remaining proportion is yet to be known.

The education institution and trade union groups are perhaps most interesting. The majority of the representatives of these groups are likely to vote for a two-government position. Of the 20 members representing the education institutions, 60 percent are C2 and only 30 percent are OP3. Of the 19 members representing the trade unions, more than two thirds (68%) are pro CCM and/or two-tier government and only five (5) percent are likely to support the three-tier government. The position of the remaining a quarter of these remains unclear at the moment. The majority of the people with disabilities (55%) are likely to support the three-government structure than the two-tier government structure (30%).  For the like-minded individuals group, 60 percent are likely to be C2 and 15 percent OP3, while the position of the remaining proportion could not be identified at the moment.

Overall, of the 161 members analysed, 52 percent (N=61) can be said to be straightforward pro CCM and/or two-tier government structure and 26 percent are straightforward pro opposition and/or three-tier government structure. The position of 22 percent of the members could not be identified at the time of this analysis.

The final verdict is that 336 members of the Constituent Assembly can be said to be straightforward supporters of the CCM position on the structure of the union and 133 can be said to be straightforward supporters of the opposition political parties’ position on three-tier government union. This gives CCM a comfortable majority of 72 percent. I do not expect the position of the pastoralists, farmers and those whose position could not be determined at the moment to tilt this equation significantly. In other words these are also more likely to support CCM’s position than not.

Conclusively, my wild guess is that the proposed three-tier government union structure will be shot down in the Constituent Assembly. Of course we knew this was coming when the opposition and all of us failed to convince the President to change the law so that the 201 members could have been elected directly by their organisations/institutions. Instead, we allowed these to be appointed by the President, the chairman of CCM, a party that has consistently and vehemently opposed the three-tier government union structure. President Kikwete somehow behaved cleverly by portraying himself more of a statesman than a party cadre, and someone who would be above party politics on the question of the constitution making. The nomination of the 201 members would suggest that, yes Kikwete is President, a statesman, but more importantly he is CCM, and indeed its chairman. We will be naïve to think that President Kikwete will go against his party positions that he presided over. At the end of the day President Kikwete will emerge as the cleverest politician, and we, the pro three-tier government union structure, will laugh at ourselves!

Dr Kitila Mkumbo is Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Education at the University of Dar es Salaam. 

2 thoughts on “My wild guess: the three-tier government union structure proposal will be shot down in the Constituent Assembly

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