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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Can the Union survive under any form of power?

Can the Union be successfully implemented under any form of power?

“All the states but our own are sensibe that knowledge is power” – Thomas Jefferson


Chambi Chachage


The Union is both a political and structural question. Political in the sense that it involves the distribution and separation of powers, not only among the executive, judiciary and legislative within the uniting parties but also across them. It is also political in regard to the ways people engage in a democratic process of constraining or decentralizing power.

As such, political will – of both the people and their leaders – is important in maintaining a union. If the majority of the people want or do not want it, and when they are organized enough, then it is just a matter of time before power tilts in their favor. People’s power.

However, the structural is also political. In a polity that is not aiming for anarchy, a union must have a form. This cannot be just any form. Claiming, as Zitto Zuberi Kabwe does, that it “is a concept which can be successful implemented under any form” is to ignore the contextual limitation of certain structures.[1] It is also to ignore the balancing of power.

Prior to that claim, in his article on ‘Three-govt system will cement Union, increase openness” (The Citizen 20/04/2014), the dynamic politician states: “the Union stems and anchors on belief. It is an ideology; it is whether you believe in or not in the Union”. But beliefs/ideologies do not exist in a political vacuum. They operate in structures of power.

It is these structures that shape people’s experiences of the Union. Our two-government system that has survived for 50 years is a case in point. In doubling Union matters from the original 11 over the years, the United Republic of Tanzania increasingly swallowed Zanzibar’s semi-autonomy. It thus fermented public distrust through the abuse of power.

Trust, as Maria Sarungi Tsehai’s invocation, in the Constituent Assembly (CA), of Julius Kambarage Nyerere’s 1977 speech on the Constitution, is important in constitutional making.[2] When CA members, Juma Haji Duni and Ismail Jussa Ladhu, queried why Zanzibar is being promised now the things it has been demanding and what would enforce them in a proposed modified two-government structure, it was a cry of broken trust.[3] For them, a three-government structure would enable Zanzibar to exercise power.

For Tundu Antiphas Lissu and the coalition of the few in his CA committee, There Is No Alternative (TINA) to a three-government structure even if the (resulting) Union government of Tanzania would be weak vis-à-vis the governments of Tanganyika and Zanzibar.[4] In other words, Zanzibar took its power back through its 2010 constitutional amendment so let Tanganyika also do so although Tanzania would not have much power.

Kabwe’s proposition for a three-government structure, on the other hand, aims to empower the Union government. However, as noted earlier, it ignores the balancing of power necessary for sustaining a democratic union. Surely, as he notes, “any type or form of Union can break if the people do not want the merger.” But people wanting any type or form of union is not a guarantee for its sustainability. It needs a solid structure of power.

Even though he asserts that there “is no scientific proof that three governments will break the Union,” the examples that the dynamic politician provides are not scientific proof that the three governments that he is proposing won’t break the union. “Those who prophesy that three governments will break the Union”, he thus concludes, “are politicising the issue unnecessarily because the Union is a belief, it is an ideology.” But some of these 'prophets of doom' are simply asking him to go beyond 'arithmetic' and analyze power.

Ironically, he wants us to take a leaf from a colonial structure that we abandoned in 1962, a year after we won independence: He states: “Before Tanganyika became a Republic, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and later Mzee Kawawa served as Prime Ministers. The Queen was only head of the state. We should modify and adopt this system by having a single head of state and two Prime Ministers leading the two partner states. Under this system we will have one head of state, one state and three governments.” Three centers of power.

Queen Elizabeth II did not become our executive head of the state on 9 December 1961. The executive head of state was only one, the Prime Minister. Even when we decided to have a prime minister who somehow shared executive powers with the president, our structure ensured that he is subordinate enough as he doesn't have a separate jurisdiction. It would be a problem if she/he heads 'a large yet separate area' with her/his own power.

Understandably, Kabwe aims to appease if not please both parties – proponents of two and three-government structures – by meeting all of them somewhere in or near the middle. But you can’t please everyone all the time. This is more so in matters of power.

He writes: “Costs of managing security activities will be less under three governments than in two governments. This is because under three governments everybody will be happy as within it there are two governments as well as one government. If we decide on two governments, those who want three governments will not be happy and this might attract discontent which will weaken the merger.” His proposal? Another layer of power.

Lest I put words into his mouth let us read this: “I would like to urge my fellow members to make sure that we safeguard this Union at any cost by making drastic changes in its system and format by creating another executive body which will deal with Tanganyika matters.” We are told this executive body would be under a PM. This executive premier, however, is not going to be running a separate country – only matters pertaining to Tanganyika as if it would be an 'entity' that is neither a country nor a people in power.

My bone of contention remains: How do we ensure the distribution and separation power between and within three layers of executive, judiciary and legislature without breaking the Union? Whether we call them presidents or prime ministers we are talking of three executives of Tanzania, Tanganyika and Zanzibar, respectively. And whether we call them parliaments or houses, we are talking of three legislatures. Or whether we call them courts or committees, we are also talking of three judiciaries. All nine vested with power.

Judge Joseph Sinde Warioba knew very well these structural limitations when, after a thorough review of recommendations regarding a three-government structure, the analytic in him once concluded that: “Matokeo yake Serikali za Tanganyika na Zanzibar zitakuwa na nguvu sana na Serikali ya Muungano itakuwa dhaifu kabisa” (i.e. the government of Tanganyika and that of Zanzibar will have a lot power and the Union government will be utterly weak).[5] But the democratic in him later conceded: “Lakini kama wananchi wanataka hivyo, sawa” (i.e. but if that is what the people want, okay).[6] If that is surely what we, the people, want so be it, albeit after knowing it is all about power.

Yes, we need to read between these lines in Article 62(3) of the second draft of the proposed constitution and know its implications: “Bila ya kuathiri au kukiuka masharti ya Ibara hii, Serikali ya Jamhuri ya Muungano, kwa makubaliano na masharti maalum baina yake na Serikali ya Zanzibar au Serikali ya Tanganyika, inaweza kutekeleza jambo lolote lililo chini ya mamlaka ya Serikali ya Zanzibar au Serikali ya Tanganyika kwa mujibu wa masharti ya makubaliano hayo” (i.e. Without prejudice to, and without breaching the provisions of, this Article, the government of the united republic, in agreement and on the basis of the stipulations, between it and the government of Zanzibar or Tanganyika, may implement any thing that is within the jurisdiction of Zanzibar or Tanganyika according to those agreements.”[7] With a weak union government, who has the bargaining power?

Even Professor Ibrahim Haruna Lipumba of the protesting UKAWA is aware of such power differentials. In his powerful presentation prefaced with his trademark disclaimer “Mada hii ni mawazo binafsi” (i.e. this presentation is my personal reflections), he points out: “Tume ya Jaji Warioba haikufanya uchambuzi wa kina na kubaini kuwa mfumo wa serikali ndiyo msingi wa mantiki ya kuingiza sehemu kubwa ya vyanzo vya mapato ya serikali ya Tanganyika kuwa jambo la Muungano. Msingi huu ukiondolewa, utaratibu wa kugharamia serikali ya Muungano unahitaji kufikiriwa kwa makini la sivyo serikali ya Muungano itakuwa haina vyanzo vya mapato vya uhakika (i.e. Judge Warioba’s Commission did not undertake an in-depth analysis and/to determine that the structure/system of government is the basis of the logic of making large part of the government of Tanganyika’s sources of income to be a union matter. When this basis is removed, the arrangement of financing the Union government has to be rethought/revised carefully otherwise the Union government won’t have reliable sources of income)[8]. In annals of power, he who pays the piper calls the tune for money is also a source of power.

Opinions matters. So do opinion polls. However, they are not substitutes for informed public debates and referendums. They are only supplements or complements. After all voting is one of the ways in which people can ensure that power is not a monopoly of one entity. As we brace to hear Judge Warioba, again, as he grace the release of what Rakesh Rajani’s Twaweza refers to as “the most recently available nationally representative data on the second draft of the constitution”, let us bear in mind that the most important structural thing that would make people strengthen, weaken or break the Union is power.[9]

Not so long ago Professor Issa Gulamhussein Shivji aptly noted: “That brings us to the so-called three-government formula. Let me sound a word of caution here. Used simplistically as a formula, this notion contains the problem, of generating wrong signals as if three governments in themselves mean more democracy and power to the people. Playing with numbers—one, two, or three governments—triviliases the complexity of the issue and unnecessarily divides people, creating irrational loyalties to numbers, so to speak…. It is best therefore to shift the discussion to the complexity of power sharing structures rather than reduce the question to the numbers of government. The central question in any federal type arrangement is the distribution of power between the centre and regional state and government organs”.[10] This also applies to a unitary nation-state our pragmatic politician is concocting out of three governments – the question of power.

Power analysis can thus help us structure our union in a sustainable way. Our public debate must involve it. Ultimately, it is the people who decides. But it is the structures that determine to what extent such decisions would be sustained. Let us speak truth to power.




[4] Maoni Ya Wajumbe Walio Wa Wachache Katika Kamati Namba Nne Kuhusu Sura Ya Kwanza Na Sura Ya Sita Ya Rasimu Ya Katiba Ya JAMHURI YA MUUNGANO WA TANZANIA [Kanuni Ya 32(4) Ya Kanuni Za Bunge Maalum, 2014]
[5] Kutoka Makavani. Kwa Nini Muundo wa Shirikisho Utaua Muungano
[8] Changamoto ya mfumo wa serikali tatu: Kugharamia serikali ya Muungano
[10] Let the People Speak: Tanzania Down the Road to Neoliberalism

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