Three tier government and who should be elected the chairperson of Constituent Assembly (CA) have torn apart the ruling party, CCM— a week a head of the start of the official assembly to debate the proposed constitution draft.
Details gathered by The Citizen show that two contentious issues have deeply divided CA members from the ruling party, threatening what has earlier been described as solidarity to defend the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar at any cost. CCM members differ on whether or not to support the three-tier government proposed in the draft constitution and on who should be elected the CA chairperson. CCM’s official position of agitating for the retention of the current two-government system has put its members from the Zanzibar House of Representatives, including CA interim chairman Pandu Ameir Kificho, in a dilemma.
The House of Representatives made it clear to the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) during the opinion-gathering stage of the constitution writing process that it does not support the current union system.
Some CCM members have publicly vowed to defy their party when the CA starts to debate the draft constitution. The proposed Standings Orders seek to have members cast secret votes when debating the draft—a move seen as a big boost for rebels within CCM.
CCM members in the CA also differ on who should contest the assembly chairpersonship from the party. Former Attorney General Andrew Chenge and former Speaker of the National Assembly Samuel Sitta are named as the frontrunners, although neither has publicly declared his intention to seek the post.
However, investigation by The Citizen has established that covert campaigns have begun amid claims that tidy sums of money are changing hands in a bid to woo CA members.
It will be interesting to see how CA members from the House of Representatives, who are also CCM members, handle the Union hot potato.
A House of Representatives document, which was adopted as the common stand of Zanzibar legislators, pushes for a three-government union. “Many of us are now in a dilemma. We are torn between supporting the official position of the House of Representatives and backing the party’s stand,” said a member who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The House of Representatives document, whose copy has been obtained by The Citizen, shows that the House wants a system that gives both Zanzibar and Tanganyika sovereignty.
“Because Zanzibaris want a union structure which recognises Zanzibar as a country, the envisaged constitution should state categorically that ours is a united republic resulting from the merger of the Republic of Tanganyika and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar,” says part of the document signed by House of Representatives Speaker Pandu Ameir Kificho.
The document says further that this would ensure that special administrative powers were reserved for a sovereign Zanzibar. Several members told The Citizen separately that the secret ballot proposal would enable them make decisions that were in Zanzibar’s best interests.
“This is because we will be able to make decisions without fear. The negative side to this is that it has the potential to undermine the party… we don’t want to see that happening,” one of the members said.
Mji Mkogwe Representative Ismail Jussa of the Civic United Front said he sympathised with CCM members, particularly those from Zanzibar, adding that CCM’s position made it tough for them to decide what was best for the people they represented.
“There is nothing wrong with CCM having a position on this because all parties have their positions, but I have a problem with its decision to publicly declare its stance and compel its members to support it. We all know that CCM has a comfortable majority in the assembly and if all its members decide to stick by the party’s official position on the Union, it means that they will not be making decisions independently and this is not supposed to happen in the assembly,” he said.