NEIGHBOURING Kenya recently concluded one of its historical elections. Despite all the shortfalls that appeared in the aftermath, leading to the annulment of presidential results, still, a huge number of people believe that Kenyan elections were exemplary and that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in Tanzania has lessons to learn.
On various occasions, the NEC Director of Elections gave his views in relation to the matter, saying that despite the impression created among many East Africans, there were areas that NEC performed well and there are others that need to be improved.
“I would like to remind our stakeholders that NEC executes its duties in accordance with the 1977’s Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, the National Elections Act (Cap 343), Local Government Elections Act (Cap 292), the Local Government (District Authorities) Act (Cap 287), the Local Government (Urban Authorities) Act (Cap 288) together with its various regulations” elaborated Mr Ramadhani Kailima.
He pointed out that NEC has received a number of challenges from its stakeholders, their main concern is why the commission is not executing its duties in the same way as Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) .
One of the questions often asked is why presidential results in Tanzania are not challenged in a court of law Mr Kailima said this is according to the Article 41 of the Constitution, which states that once NEC has announced the winner in an election no objection shall be made in court.
“When a candidate is declared by the Electoral Commission to have been duly elected in accordance with this Article, then no court of law shall have any jurisdiction to inquire into the election of that candidate,” read Article 41 (7) of the Constitution.
“It should be noted that the Constitution is the voice of the people, and that is what Tanzanians have agreed at least for now and we are obliged to respect the constitution. If the constitution or the Article in question changes, the commission will change too…….,” he said.
Mr Kailima further noted that winning means the one who scoops majority vote, not the percentage, and the proportion representation determines the number of Special Seats Member of Parliament and Special Seats Councilors each party gets.
Therefore, even if the winner in the presidential race scoops one vote ahead of the opponent he or she wins. “Any presidential candidate shall be declared duly elected President only if he has obtained majority of votes,” reads Article 41 (6) of the Constitution.
Commenting on the issue of independent candidates as compared to Kenyan elections, also given the struggles that people have gone through to make the matter possible in Tanzania with some of them going to the extent of seeking the right in court but in vain, Mr Kailima noted that it was important for people to read the Constitution thoroughly….
“Once you have read an Article in the Constitution it is important to read every other related Article for better understanding. Whereas the Constitution says it is the right of a citizen to vote and be voted, Article 67 says that a candidate must be sponsored and endorsed by a political party, therefore, NEC is supposed to adhere to this Article and thus it will recognize only those who are endorsed by their parties,” he said.
“Subject to the provisions contained in this Article, any person shall be qualified for election or appointment as a Member of Parliament if he (a) is a citizen of the United Republic of Tanzania who has attained the age of twenty-one years and who can read and write in Kiswahili or English; and …(b) is a member and a candidate proposed by a political party,” reads Article 67 (1) of the constitution.
Mr Kailima added that NEC would be ready to implement any other legal directives that will be put in the Constitution by Citizens through their Parliament. He refused to give his personal stand on the matter revolving independent candidate, saying that in his capacity as the Director of Elections, his personal views on such a matter would be contradictory.
He, however, insisted that if the Constitution undergoes changes, he would make sure that NEC adheres to the changes. In Kenya, inmates are allowed to vote. However, in Tanzania, prisoners are not allowed to vote.
Commenting, Mr Kailima said “…….We elect the president through our constituencies. Polling stations are supposed to be in constituencies and these stations are found in districts or municipalities. We have 264 constituencies and the law does not provide for either diaspora or inmate constituencies but if we would be so directed by the Constitution we have no objection”.
He said Article 74 (6) (C) directs NEC to divide the United Republic of Tanzania in constituencies for the purposes of members of parliament and presidential elections. Adding that since the commission’s powers are limited within the country, it cannot go beyond the boundaries set.
“……the responsibilities of the Electoral Commission shall be:
(a) to supervise and co-ordinate the registration of voters in Presidential and Parliamentary elections in the United Republic;
(b) to supervise and co-ordinate the conduct of the Presidential and Parliamentary election;
(c) to review the boundaries and demarcate the United Republic into various areas for the purposes of Parliamentary elections;
(d) to supervise and co-ordinate the registration of voters and the conduct of the election of Councilors; and
(e) to perform any other functions in accordance with a law enacted by Parliament,” reads the Constitution Article 74 (6).
“Had the law mentioned that we would have a role of organizing elections abroad, we would do so without hesitating,” said Mr Kailima.
Continues on Monday