Constitution refers to a system of laws and basic principles that a country or an organization is governed by. A national constitution is a document that bears the basic guides of a country. This means the people will be governed by a government on the basis of the provisions of the constitution. The constitution provides the framework of the country and creates the principle organs of the state as well as its power and limitations.
The Tanzanian constitution has not always been as it is currently. It has undergone several major changes since the first one was written in 1961. Constitutional changes are determined by a number of factors. The following are some of the factors that can lead to constitutional changes includes Changes in major policies, Changes in leadership, Changes in philosophy, Social development, Global changes, Supposed discrepancies, Pressure from the opposition side, Adaptation of new ideas, Revolution, Individual wishes or ideas. The Tanzanian constitution has had a number of versions includes:
1.The Independence Constitution of 1961: Tanganyika got her independence from Britain in 1961. The British wrote the constitution which was used when Mwalimu J. K. Nyerere was the Prime Minister. The constitution was known as the Independence Constitution of 1961.
2.The republic Constitution of 1962: In 1962, the government of Tanganyika published a white paper proposing to make the country a public. The National Assembly discussed the paper and adopted it. The National Assembly then passed the Act of Parliament to give it a legal right to be a Constituent Assembly. This Constituent Assembly discussed and adopted a new constitution and Mwalimu J. K. Nyerere was elected the first president of the Republic of Tanganyika. This constitution was known as the Republic Constitution of 1962.
3.The Interim Constitution of the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar of 1964; After the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar there was a need to change the constitution. So the President of Tanzania issued an interim constitutional decree which modified the Constitution of the Republic of Tanganyika. The new constitution was the Interim Constitution of the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar of 1964.
4.The Interim Constitution of Tanzania of 1965: In 1965, the Parliament of the United Republic of Tanzania enacted an Act of Parliament to make the Interim Constitution of Tanzania. This constitution declared Tanzania a single party state. Tanganyika African national Union (TANU) of Tanzania mainland and Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) of Zanzibar were the only political parties recognized by the constitution. This constitution was the starting point in uniting TANU and ASP so that Tanzania could become a real one-party state. This constitution was known as the Interim Constitution of Tanzania of 1965.
5.The Constitution of the United republic of Tanzania of 1977: In 1977 TANU and ASP united to form Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM). This union created the need for a new constitution. The then President of Tanzania Mwalimu J. K. Nyerere appointed a Constitutional Commission of twenty people to oversee the making of a new constitution. Each side of the union was represented by ten members.
President Nyerere appointed the representatives of the Constituent Assembly to consider the proposal of the Constitutional Commission to enact the constitution. The members of the Constituent assembly were 45 from Zanzibar and 156 from Tanzania mainland. They discussed and agreed on the constitutional proposals made by the Constitutional Commission, then the current constitution was adopted. The constituent is known as the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977.