Which Constitution?

So the push for a new constitution is getting places. President Kikwete announced the establishment of a Constitutional Review Commission in his end of year speech. His reference to “a new constitution” contradicts the views of his Attorney General and Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, both of whom rejected the idea, saying the current constitution can always be amended on a needs basis.

This all begs a few questions:

1. Where does a new constitution and the time energy and resources that will go into discussion about it, come in your list of priorities for Tanzania?

2. What does the lack of communication between the President and those appointed by him tell us?

3. Importantly, what constitution are we talking about? The most recent Swahili language one from 2000, or the most recent English language one from 2008? They are substantively different documents. Or maybe the 1998 English version available on the government website? Thanks to Mikocheni Report and Udadisi for the first two links.

My submission to the commission: ensure there is one agreed version in Swahili of the new constitution easily available in both hard and soft copies.

Word of advice: if you have an NGO, get working on proposals for community consultations, workshops, simplified versions, civic education. This one could run and run.


7 responses to “Which Constitution?

  1. The Swahili version of 2005 is the official document. The last ammendments were in February 2005 which were not captured in 2000 document for sure. The English version of 1998 is flawed and were actually recalled from circulation.

  2. Thanks Zitto. But the English language version of 2008 (hard copy, beside me) says “official revised version”. My understanding is that where interpretation differs, the Swahili version trumps the English one. But why have two? And why are they so poorly distributed? My second submission to the commission: clarify this issue officially.

  3. I have hardcopy of the Kiswahili version of 2005. I have attached the 14 constitutional amendments that culminated in the 2005 version here:

  4. Thanks Chambi. But we really shouldn’t be having this conversation. I should be able to jump a bus, head to posta, pop into the duka la vitabu vya serikali and hand over a few hundred shillings for one agreed copy. Or stay at home and download it to my phone.

  5. Yes indeed. I wish I could say ‘Only in Tanzania’. Or ‘This is Africa (TIA)’

  6. Good morning: I’ve followed with great interest publications. I’m teaching and I am dedicated to trying to implement strategies that can bring culture to all corners of the world. If you want to visit my blog dedicated to literature and philosophy, the address is:


  7. Wonderfully helpful post, SS. Thanks. Now, off to buy a copy…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s