16 January 2013

Tanzania: Top Civil Servant Touts Powerful Presidency

A TOP government official has advised that the new constitution should not curtail the powers of the president to enable the holder to execute his or her duties effectively and efficiently.

He told the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) in Dar es Salaam that a president with more powers will be able to unify the country and bring about a better sense of direction than the one with lesser powers.

Briefing reporters after giving his views on the new constitution before the commission, Chief Secretary Ombeni Sefue, stressed the need for the president to exercise his or her powers more resolutely to maintain national unity.

Ambassador Sefue led a team of permanent secretaries from various ministries, each of whom gave their views on the proposed new constitution. "I think for a country as young as Tanzania, we should not put much emphasis in reducing powers of the president.

We need a powerful president so that he or she can use those powers to unify the country," he stressed. Ambassador Sefue noted further that Tanzania needs a strong leadership with necessary powers "to make sure things are moving smoothly and in the right direction".

The chief secretary observed that once elected to lead the people, a president becomes an institution that is responsible to make the country move forward. A country cannot, therefore, develop without a strong and powerful institution (the presidency).

He also defended powers of the president to nominate various leaders, including permanent secretaries, saying the new constitution should embrace the current system. Mr Sefue noted, however, that the new constitution should make sure that all the pillars of the government operated with full autonomy.

Commenting on the Union, the chief secretary noted that the current union set-up was perfect, calling for its strengthening in the new constitution. "I see nothing wrong with the structure of the current union. There is nothing wrong with having two governments within the union," he quipped.

According to the present constitution, the President of the United Republic serves as the Head of State, the Head of Government and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Presidential powers in the new constitution has been a matter of debate in various meetings held by the CRC where people want the constitution to clip presidential powers when it comes to appointment of judges and other sensitive posts.

Various political parties and individual politicians have, however, emphasized that there was a need to change the structure of the union. Some have proposed a federation; others are for three governments while some wants union of contract.

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