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African Human Rights Law Journal

On-line version ISSN 1996-2096
Print version ISSN 1609-073X


WAMBALI, Michael. The practice on the right to freedom of political participation in Tanzania. Afr. hum. rights law j. [online]. 2009, vol.9, n.1, pp.203-223. ISSN 1996-2096.

This is a review of the impact of the drastic reforms in 1992 on Tanzania's constitutional and socio-political scene, specifically upon the right to freedom of political participation. Using a historical perspective, the article traces the origins of the present failures and successes in this regard in order to test whether the law meets the requirements of constitutionalism and international standards. It debates the issue as to whether in practice the one-party political system allowed free and unimpeded participation in the public decision making. It is argued that this legacy has not been done away with by the post-1992 reforms. It asks the question as to whether the National Electoral Commission is really independent and free of influence and dictation by the government. The amendments of the relevant constitutional provisions and other laws have added to the establishment of the Commission's de jure independence. Nothing has been done by the government to date, following a report of the Presidential Committee on the Constitution (Kisanga Committee) of 1999, to make the Commission de facto independent, even to a limited extent. Similar questions have been asked relating to other elements of political participation, such as the right to effective participation and the need to hold a constitutional conference leading to a new Constitution and allowing independent candidates in all elections in Tanzania. In this regard the government has not done enough, despite consistent pressure and campaigns from political parties and other civil society institutions. Lastly, the prospects for genuine political reforms are debated, acknowledging only limited success.

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