Judge Kisanga: The constitution has outlived its usefulness

The Informer

Senior Member
Jun 14, 2010

Constitution has outlived purpose


Dar es Salaam

A retired Court of Appeal judge, Dr. Robert Kisanga, has declared that Tanzania's constitution adopted under one-party rule more than 30 years ago, is old and outdated, and warned that the government may continue to ignore growing calls for a new constitution at its own peril.

The highly-respected justice said the country's principal law must be scrapped to pave way for a new constitution drafted by an all-inclusive constitutive assembly.

He explained that the existing constitution has been “patched up” too many times after a total of 14 constitutional amendments since the country's principal law was adopted in 1977.

"The constitution has outlived its purpose ... it has outlived its usefulness," Judge Kisanga said in an interview with THISDAY in Dar es Salaam.

He likened the current constitution to a person who had outgrown a shirt.

"If a person has outgrown an old shirt, you cannot avoid getting a new shirt. Similarly, our constitution is outdated and must be replaced with a new one," he explained.

"The constitution has been patched up too many times. For how long are we going to continue doing this?" He declared.

The 77-year old Judge Kisanga joins a chorus of calls for the government to heed the demands of the Tanzanian public and initiate the process for adopting a new constitution.

He said it was futile for the government to try to suppress the people's wishes, saying the need for a new constitution was unavoidable.

"The government should participate in the process instead of suppressing this wish for a new constitution. It appears that the people are expressing their right for a new constitution, but the rulers are suppressing it," he said.

"Ultimately, members of the Tanzanian public will have their way. But, it would be more peaceful if the people were given a chance to express themselves and participate in drafting a new constitution."


Justice Kisanga advised the government to listen to the people's demands, warning that any attempts at blocking the move would lead to violence.

"Perhaps it's the fear of the unknown ... the government currently knows what is going on with the existing constitution. They are worried about where the new constitution will take us to," he noted.

He said the government has just been postponing the need for a new constitution, but insisted that it was something that is inevitable.

"A constitution, like any other law, is a living organism and has the quality of being able to grow. Therefore, it must be reviewed from time to time in line with the needs and aspirations of the nation at any given time."

Judge Kisanga also backed demands from opposition parties for electoral reforms.

Under the constitution, parliamentary and local council results can be challenged in the courts but final presidential results as announced by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) cannot be challenged.

He faulted the basic structure of NEC and the selection of its members. The electoral commission has been strongly criticised by opposition leaders and international observers due to the conduct of the vote in the October 31 general election.

President Jakaya Kikwete won re-election for a second and final term in office in a poll marred by a record low turn out and serious allegations of vote rigging in favour of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.

"Even if we had angels at NEC, problems will still persist in our elections until the electoral system is changed," he said.

"When you say the presidential results are final, this goes against the whole principles of good governance, rule of law, truthfulness and transparency. The system may mess up the presidential election deliberately because they know once the results are announced then it is sealed."

Judge Kisanga in July earned an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater, the University of Birmingham in the UK, in recognition of his long and distinguished career in Tanzania's judiciary.

He has served as a state attorney, high court judge and justice of the court of appeal.

Upon retirement from the judiciary, he chaired various international and national commissions into human rights and constitutional reform. He is now the president of the Media Council of Tanzania.

Neighbouring Kenya adopted a new constitution in August this year after years of bloodshed and political unrest. Zambia is also in the final stages of ratifying a new constitution, while Ghana promulgated a new constitution way back in 1992 and has since become a model democracy in Africa.


Nyani Ngabu

Platinum Member
May 15, 2006
Where were these people!?

This should have been done 18 years ago when we decided to switch the political system.

The Dreamer

JF-Expert Member
Feb 2, 2009
long overdue. But is constitution a living thing really? I believe in dynamic nature of the constitution and thus the call for a new one but quash the idea of it being living organism!


JF-Expert Member
Nov 2, 2009
I am afraid the constitution will not come on a silver plate!
Heads will roll!
Better refrain from the new constitution demand.


JF-Expert Member
Sep 14, 2010
GREAT THINKER INFORMER -Haya ndio mambo ya kuleta jamvini sio udaku wa sokomoko, maralia sugu, na mamuluki wengine. Judge amenena na tunamuunga mkono, CHADEMA imeonesha njia wasomi na wazalendo wengine wote wanaunga mkono hizi jitihada za ukombozi big up Juge Kisanga. Tunataka wasomi wanaothubutu kama wewe achana na vibaraka akina bannnnaa

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