Tanzania: The Fault Lines in the Social System, and Their Negative Effects On Governance

IN my article of last week, I made a brief reference to the "obnoxious presence of certain fault lines in our society, which create obstacles in the process of governance"; which included: (a) the lack of leadership ethics among some of the public leaders; and (b) the failure by leaders to make timely decisions; or making inappropriate decisions of a nuisance nature, which irritate the public and generate justified dissatisfaction and complaints among the community members, often leading to unrest. But at that point, I ran out of editorial space, and thus could not elaborate further on that matter.

However, I believe that this is such an important matter, that it merits more detailed treatment. And that is the subject matter of today's article.

Tanzania's governance system I was moved to discuss this matter, mainly because of some stakeholders who renewed demands for a "new Constitution". In the matter of Constitutions; I must say that I totally agree, and fully appreciate, the importance of a "good" and workable Constitution.

This is because the Constitution is at the core of the concept of "good governance".

In this context, the words "good governance" are used to mean 'the availability of the basic political structures which are required for guiding the country's leaders and administrators in their management of the country's affairs; and more specifically, in their management of their people's material prosperity and their civil liberties; plus providing a suitable framework within which political conflicts are peacefully resolved; the national resources are equitably distributed; and the government of the day is held accountable for all its actions.

Such structures are normally given expression in the country's Constitution, and are commonly referred to as " the pillars of State", namely the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary.

The Constitution normally also prescribes the precise location, and the exercise of, their powers, and the limitations thereto, by establishing devices for "checks and balances" which are designed to prevent 'authoritarianism', or the abuse and/ or misuse of power.

However, it should be noted that the Constitution only provides the firm foundation for the country's good governance. And, because Constitutions are operated by human beings known as leaders, their management is, obviously, subject to the inevitable human idiosyncrasies.

I have read a book titled: The British Constitution (second edition, 1968, University Press, Glasgow); which says that: "the good or bad fortune of a nation depends on three factors: its Constitution; the way it is made to work; and the respect it inspires". This statement appears to confirm my contention that "by itself, the Constitution alone cannot determine the issues that are being contested", as this appears to be the main objective of CHADEMA's intensified demands for a 'new Constitution'.

The successful determination of such issues will largely depend not on the quality of the Constitution, but mainly on the factors mentioned in that book, namely "the way it is made to work; and the confidence it inspires" among the community. It is my humble submission therefore, that "the way in which the Constitution is made to work" is the most essential factor, which will determine the good or bad fortune of our nation. And further that the obnoxious "fault lines" which are inevitably present in any sociopolitical system, will always create insurmountable obstacles in the way the Constitution is made to work.

The fault lines in the sociopolitical system. In this presentation, we will focus on the following group of fault lines:- (i) "The culture of resistance", by which is meant 'the propensity by an assortment of dissidents, to raise objections to even the good and beneficial measures that are being taken by the government! One such example is the absolutely surprising objection, raised recently by the cleric-cum politician Josephat Gwajima, MP for Kawe, against the obviously positive, national vaccination campaign spearheaded by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, in the fight against the covid-19 pandemic; which was castigated by the said cleric -cum-politician, when he told worshippers during his sermon at a Sunday service in his Dar es Salaam-based Glory of Christ Church, that he would "dedicate the whole of the following week to preaching on the dangers of the covid-19 vaccinations".

There are, of course, numerous other examples of such "culture of resistance" behaviour that could be cited; including the propensity by some dissatisfied civil society groups to organise violence as a sign of protest, or resistance, to some political event that has occurred, which normally results in the death, or injury, of large numbers of innocent people; as happened recently in Kwa Zulu Natal Province, South Africa. (ii) The general lack of 'leadership ethics' among public leaders.

This is a major and fundamental fault line; which is to be found in almost all jurisdictions in the world. It has been stated in the relevant 'books of authority', that "ethics lies at the heart of all human relationships; and, especially, the relationship between the leader and his followers, and any others who may be affected by his actions, or decisions . . . Ethics is the heart of leadership" (iii) Weaknesses in the governance system itself. Weaknesses in the governance system are manifested it two areas. The first is in the decision-making process; and the other is in the area of supervision.

Weaknesses in the decision-making process have often created problems of either indecision, in cases where no decisions are made at all when they are actually required; or in making inappropriate decisions of a nuisance nature, which irritate the public and generate justified dissatisfaction among the community members.

The second is in the area of supervision. The lack of supervision usually leads to dismal failure to maintain the required work. The examples of numerous dismissals of certain public leaders who were caught engaging themselves in rampant misappropriation or embezzlement of public funds which had been entrusted to them for proper management. (iv) The lack of patriotism among many of the current young generation.

"Patriotism" is defined as "the quality of loving one's country by being faithful and bearing true allegiance to it". The lack of 'patriotism' is what drives some individuals to commit crimes against their own country, or against its people; such as participating in acts of terrorism and murder; with devastating consequences to national security.

These 'fault lines' cannot be remedied by the enactment of a "new Constitution". They can only be dealt with by using other laws of the land that are enacted specifically for the purpose of addressing such issues. And, indeed, we already have such laws on our statute books.

For example, there are laws which provide for the enforcement of 'ethics behaviour' among public leaders; and other laws which can be used by the Police to control violence.

There are also others which criminalise corruption and the embezzlement of public funds; and so on. Other claims associated with the demands for a new Constitution. It has also been claimed that the current Constitution "did not originate from the people".

This, in my view, is a false claim; because the relevant records show that the requirement for "people's participation" in our country's constitution-making processes, has always been implemented. In that connection, the methodology which was consistently used has invariably been that of appointing a "Presidential Constitutional Review Commission" whenever the need arose either for enacting a new Constitution (as happened in the case of the "One-party' State' Constitution of 1965; or for introducing major amendments to the existing Constitution in order to take care of new fundamental political developments (as was done in the case of the country's transition to multi-party politics in 1992).

I happen to have had the good fortune of being given the rare opportunity of participating in two such Constitutional Review Commissions, which were tasked to "collect the people's views" in our past constitution-making processes.

These were, first, the CCM initiated "Thabit Kombo" Commission; which was tasked to make proposals in preparation for the making of the 1977 (current) Constitution; and later on, the Nyalali Presidential Commission" of 1991/92, which was mandated to collect the people's views regarding the transition to multi-party politics.

The little experience gained from participating in these assignments shows that in this particular area, the majority of Tanzanians are seriously disadvantaged; because:: (a) they have very little knowledge regarding the contents and functions of Constitutions; and (b) they similarly have very little active interest in matters relating to the Constitution.

This unsatisfactory state of affairs, is presumably influenced by two factors. One is the fact that basically, the Constitution is not the kind of "bread- and- butter issue, in which practically every individual has a vested personal interest; just because such issues have a direct impact on their daily lives.

Such issues include the provision of social services , particularly relating to the availability of clean water, plus health and education facilities. Matters relating to the Constitution, obviously do not belong to that category, hence they tend to generate little or no active interest among ordinary citizens.

The other factor, namely that the majority of the people have little knowledge (or perhaps none at all) about the contents and role of the Constitution; is probably due to the fact that the Constitution is, primarily, a legal document, and is universally recognized as the fundamental law of the land. But the Constitution is, of course, also a political document; in the sense that it deals with matters relating to 'political power and authority'.

Because , Constitutions normally prescribe the location, conferment, distribution, and the exercise of power among the specified institutions of the State; and also include explicit guarantees of the 'rights and freedoms' of the individuals within the State; plus statements of the citizens' duties and responsibilities.

However, because it is primarily a legal document; adequate knowledge of the Constitution requires appropriate ' legal education and training'; which is provided only at University level; and only to a relatively small number of students who opt to study this particular academic discipline.

Thus, the fact that the majority of our people, both in urban and in rural areas, show minimal interest in giving their views and opinions when such exercises are conducted, is not at all surprising.

Credible evidence of such lack of interest in the Constitution among the ordinary Tanzanians, is provided by the statistics which were published by the Constitution Review commissions themselves.

For example, the latest such commission to be appointed for the said purpose of collecting people's views in respect of the 2014 "new" Constitution of the United Republic, was the Warioba Commission; whose published statics regarding 'public participation' in its numerous public meetings around the whole country, present the dismal picture of only 684, 303 individuals who expressed their views and opinions before the Commission in Tanzania Mainland; and only 49, 671 in Zanzibar.

And even the 'Kisanga Commission', which was appointed earlier in 1998 by President Benjamin Mkapa, reports that it was able to collect only 600,000 views and opinions from the people. In the light of these reports, those who make such false claims are strongly advised to take careful note of Mwalimu Nyerere's 'fatherly admonition', contained in his policy document titled "ARGUE, DON'T SHOUT".

Piomsekwa @gmai.com / 0754767576

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