On 4th June 2020, Tanzanian government passed Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act, No. 03 of 2020, amending, among others, the Basic Rights and Duties Enforcement Act, the Presidential Affairs Act, The National Assembly (Administration) Act, and the Law Reform (Fatal Accident and Miscellaneous Revision) Act. The four laws are currently the main legislations in the country governing the institution of public interest litigation cases to challenge violation of the Bill of Rights and regulate the institution of cases against national leaders.

The amendment sought to completely abolish the community’s right to challenge prevalent constitutional violations in the country through courts of law. Furthermore, the bill proposed unjustified immunity for the heads of the executive, the judiciary, and the parliament from legal proceedings for violations of the constitution. This is a fatal blow to the rule of law, good governance and accountability by the heads of the three arms of the state to the people.

Center for Strategic Litigation (CSL) financially supported Mr. Omar Said Shabaan, a Zanzibari citizen, to file and prosecuted a constitutional petition before the High Court of Zanzibar arguing that the requirement that a person seeking the enforce the provisions of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977 as amended (URT Constitution), contravenes the provisions of Article 26(2) of the URT Constitution and also seeks to amend the URT Constitution un-procedurally.

At the time Mr. Omar filed this petition, there was another similar petition pending before the High Court of Tanzania (Main Registry) at Dar es Salaam and the court was thus of the view that Mr. Omar’s petition becomes res subjudice, and the same was consequently stayed. The matter is still pending before the High Court of Zanzibar to date.