“It is not necessary to re-invent the wheel. By taking good lessons and best practices from other countries that have undergone constitutional reform processes, we in Tanzania will avoid the mistakes they made and move on with our constitutional reform process with speed”, said Honorable Angela Kairuki, Deputy Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs in Tanzania in her statement at the just ended peer to peer regional exchange in Dar es Saalem. The exchange was facilitated by the NIMD’s Africa Regional Programme (ARP) in partnership with the Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD).
Held under the banner “Taking the Tanzanian Constitutional Reform Process Forward: Lesson from other countries”, the south-south exchange that took place on 7th and 8th May 2012 brought together experts and/or practitioners from other NIMD programme countries where constitutional review processes are either underway (Ghana and Zimbabwe) or have been (successfully) undertaken (Kenya). In addition, the exchange was also joined by International IDEA’s expert and Manager of their Constitutional Building Programme, Mr. Winluck Wahiu within the framework of NIMD-IDEA Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). A wide range of stakeholders drawn from Tanzanian political parties and members of the newly established Tanzanian Constitutional Review Commission were also in attendance.
During these two days, participants appreciated the rationale, context and mechanisms for the Tanzanian constitutional reform process that was launched January 2011. Informed by experiences and lessons from other countries and global best practice, participants were able to draw key lessons and identify framework conditions that would contribute to the success of the Tanzanian constitutional review process.
In his remarks, the NIMD Africa Regional Programme Coordinator, Dr. Augustine Magolowondo, echoed the remarks of the Tanzanian Deputy Minister by underlining the importance of south-south exchange. “Through these exchanges, we at NIMD are able to draw on the enormous amount of expertise and knowledge that is already in abundance in the south and which only requires a platform and forum to be exchanged and showcased if we are to better facilitate political reforms in emerging democracies”, Augustine Magolowondo noted.
The exchange identified a number of key roles that TCD and the Tanzanian political parties will have to undertake in this important reform process. Among other responsibilities, the TCD is expected, for instance, to play an advisory role to the Constitutional Review Commission. In addition, TCD will continue to provide a platform through which political parties can negotiate and reach consensus on politically contentious constitutional issues that directly affect them (political parties). This is in appreciation of the fact that constitutional reform process are overly political process and that lack of consensus among political actors can sometimes jeopardise progress.
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