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Monday, April 21, 2014

Zitto Kabwe: Power Balances Under S3z Union

Power balances under S3z Union

Zitto Kabwe

In the ongoing constitutional making process discussions have centred on the structure of the Union. While pro status quo are calling for continuation of the two tier structure of the Union whereby Executives of Union and that of Tanganyika are merged and a separate executive for Zanzibar, pragmatic pro reforms are after one executive for each Union partner and a Union Executive for Union matters. Chambi Chachage is for the former with strong argument based on power relations and that the Tanganyika Executive will eventually dominate the small partner and kill the union itself. He writes “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”?  He concludes “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 decide. But it is the structures that determine to what extent such decisions would be sustained. Let us speak truth to power”[1]. And I totally agree with him that we analyse power relations created by the proposed structure, similarly by any Union structure that we will end up with. Moreover I agree with him that regardless of the fact that constitution is a legal matter but any decision will be inherently political.

About Power Joseph Nye writes “...power is hard to measure. But that is also true of love, and we do not doubt its reality simply because we cannot say we love someone 1.7 times more than someone else. Like love (and leadership), power is a relationship whose strength and domain will vary with different contexts. Those with more power in a relationship are better placed to make and resist change”[2]. Empirical studies have shown that the more powerful are less likely to take on the perspectives of others. Power is influence. Power is control, be it hard or soft. Be it through coercion or persuasion. The improved three tier Union structure (S3z as proponents call it, z standing for ‘zilizoboreshwa’) will face power relations that must be comprehended not only by its supporters but also its critics. Power equilibrium must be achieved. Because power operates both relationally and reciprocally, sociologists speak of the balance of power between parties to a relationship: all parties to all relationships have some power: the sociological examination of power concerns itself with discovering and describing the relative strengths: equal or unequal, stable or subject to periodic change. Sociologists usually analyse relationships in which the parties have relatively equal or nearly equal power in terms of constraint rather than of power. Thus 'power' has a connotation of unilateralism. If this were not so, then all relationships could be described in terms of 'power', and its meaning would be lost. Given that power is not innate and can be granted to others, to acquire power you must possess or control a form of power currency [3]. Hereunder I describe the power structures of the proposed three tier Union for analysis.

S3z is centred on Tanzania being a one sovereign state headed by One Head of State called the President of the United Republic of Tanzania. The President will have an exclusive authority on all Union matters and henceforth apart from being a head of state he/she will also be an executive head of the Union Government. Together with his/her Union Cabinet, the President will be assisted by two Vice Presidents one being a head of Government of Tanganyika with executive powers on all non union matters in Tanganyika and the other one a head of Government of Zanzibar with executive powers on all non union matters in Zanzibar. Thus, the Presidency comprises the President and the two Vice Presidents. Only the President will be directly elected by the people and must obtain at least 50% + 1 of all votes casted and not less than a third of the valid votes from each Partner state. The Prime Minister of Zanzibar and that of Tanganyika will come from a political party with majority in the Zanzibar House of Representatives and that of Tanganyika. That means, the party with majority in the House of Representatives of Tanganyika will form the Government of Tanganyika, similarly for Zanzibar.

Definitely there must be legislatures for Union, Zanzibar and Tanganyika. It is proposed that the Union Parliament (Bunge) be a joint sitting of both houses of representatives. Bunge will legislate on matters on the Union List which will be implemented by the Union Government and on concurrent matters implementation of which will be done by partner governments. This means Union matters will be exclusively legislated by Bunge, concurrent matters legislated by Bunge but enforced by partners and the remaining (non union and non concurrent) exclusively legislated by partners. With this the balance of power will be struck. As for Judiciary, already in Tanzania we have separate jurisdictions for partners and only the Court of Appeal is a Union matter. However Court of Appeal shall be replaced by Supreme Court which will be a Union Court and a court of last instance for matters to be decided by the Constitution or specific legislations.

This briefly described structure can be analysed and improved or discarded. Heads of Government of Zanzibar and Tanganyika being part of the Union Cabinet and the legislatures of both partners being Union legislatures tries to strike this balance of power. The Union Finance Minister through Union Revenue Authority will collect taxes except those not mentioned in the list of Union matters, maintain what is needed to run the Union Government and distribute to partners what remains. This is a more clear structure with checks and balances inbuilt. Most importantly this structure gives partners their autonomy while maintaining a strong union. List of Union matters shall be the list agreed in 1964 as provided for in the articles of the Union and concurrent matters must be agreed amongst partners and be included in the new constitution as a second schedule.

When conflicts occurs, the Government of Zanzibar will be able to discuss the matter with the Government of Tanganyika coordinated by the Union Government. Currently, when Zanzibar raises an issue it meets the Union as the partner is nowhere to be seen. S3z ends this confusion.


[2] The Powers to Lead, Joseph S. Nye Jr., 2008.

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