MPs propose additional changes on electoral bills

DODOMA: THE Parliamentary Committee on Governance, Constitution and Legal Affairs has proposed further amendments on three electoral reforms bills which were tabled, on Monday in the National Assembly for the second reading to ensure smooth execution.

The bills which intend to bolster good governance and democracy in the country are National Electoral Commission (NEC) Bill, 2023, the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections Bill, 2023 and the Political Parties Affairs Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023.

Presenting the committee’s views and recommendations Chairman Dr Joseph Mhagama said, besides accepting the proposed changes brought by the government, the Members of Parliament are proposing further amendments which will facilitate execution of the laws.

On Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections Bill 2023, Dr Mhagama said there should be a special system for nominating Special Seats MPs, which will be used by political parties noting that lack of such transparent arrangement has been prompting corruption.

He said the nomination of special seats legislators should consider gender equality and disability status.

“The committee has the views that it is important to look into harassment and gender violence during election offences, because such acts hold back the national efforts of attaining 50/50 gender representation in leadership,” he pointed out.

According to Dr Mhagama section 6 (1) of the bill states that every city, municipal, township and district executive directors will be a Returning Officer at constituency and ward levels.

He said the law should not make it a must for an executive director to be a returning officer and instead there should be conditions, which will allow senior public servant or any other person with required criteria to be appointed as returning or assistant returning officer.

“The committee is of the view that there is no any necessity of using directors as returning officers because experience shows that there are some of them, who have lost the qualification of being returning officers due to various reasons,” he said.

The committee also recommended the bill to recognise 59 Tanzanian embassies abroad as election coordinators in order to provide an opportunity for Tanzanians living abroad to vote for their leaders, since the country’s constitution grants right for any Tanzanian at the age of 18 to vote.

Dr Mhagama further said that the government should include a section in the bill regarding voter’s disability status in order to enable the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to put up appropriate infrastructure in polling stations.

The committee also commended the government for removing charges on voter’s ID which has been lost or damaged and other cost related to changes of voter’s information

“The aim is to enable voter to exercise his constitutional right without any cost,” he said.

On National Electoral Commission (NEC) Bill, 2023, the chairman commended the government for accepting the changes which required Director of Election not to be Secretary of the recruitment committee and instead should look for another person among the senior public servants.

The committee also urged the government to fast-track the process of having a single entity which will oversee all elections in the country including local government elections.

Presenting the National Electoral Commission (NEC) Bill 2023, Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Coordination and Parliament) Jenister Mhagama said the amendments aim to set conditions for supervising election for president, legislators’ councillors.

The amendments will allow integration of National Elections Act Chapter 343and Local Government (Elections) Chapter 292 whose conditions are the same and will be overseen by the National Electoral Commission.

On Political Parties Affairs Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023, Deputy Minister in Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Coordination and Parliament) Ummy Nderiananga said among other changes a political party which will allow a non-citizen to participate in its decision-making process contrary to subsection (4) shall be liable to a fine not exceeding twenty million shillings or to suspension or deregistration.

She said the aim of proposed amendments is to end the acts of people who are non-citizens to interfere with political party decisions.

The bill also recommends any contestant in general election and by election within 60 days after general election and 30 days after by-election to prepare and present election expenditure report to his respective party.

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