‘Reconciliation in top gear’

DAR ES SALAAM: DEPUTY Prime Minister Dr Dotto Biteko said the current process of gathering views on the proposed amendments to the electoral laws signifies the ongoing efforts towards fostering national reconciliation.

He made the remarks on Thursday in Dar es Salaam  at the closing session of a meeting organised by the Political Parties Council to solicit opinions from its members on bills tabled in Parliament in November  last year.

The bills, which were tabled include the National Electoral Commission Bill 2023, the Political Parties Affairs Laws (Amendment) Bill 2023, and the Presidential, Parliamentary, and Local Government Elections Bill 2023.

Dr Biteko thanked the Council members for their thoughtful comments and their civil discussion of the bills, noting that none of the parties claimed the right to offer suggestions and that instead, they all listened to one another and continued to work towards fostering national reconciliation.

He further expressed government commitment towards working on views presented by political stakeholders concerning the proposed amendments on the three bills that are integral to the country’s governance.

“The government cannot respond to the views expressed here; our responsibility is to listen as others do,” he added, adding that the Political Parties Council, not the government, was in charge of organising the meeting.”

He added, “In our procedures of good governance, after the bill is read in the parliament, it is the property of the House, and we, the government remain stakeholders like others,” he said, referring specifically to the three legislations whose review process was going on.

According to Dr Biteko, the government takes into account the viewpoints expressed during the meeting, but more significantly, it works to develop good governance by considering state pillars, which give the government the chance to voice its thoughts in Parliament.

“After this meeting, don’t stop going to the Parliament to give your views, as the Speaker of the Parliament has invited various stakeholders to give their opinions from 6-10 January this year in Dodoma,” Dr Biteko said.

Dr Biteko, who also serves as Minister for Energy emphasised that attendees needed to pay attention to the Parliament’s invitation and express their opinions.

“If any law appears to pose difficulties in its enforcement Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan calls upon us all to sit and agree as a nation on where we should improve. To achieve this, the Parliament will receive our opinions and act on them after which the government is required to send the amendment bill to the House for action,” he said.

The meeting’s goal, according to Jenista Mhagama, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs), was to gather views from a range of key players in the  multi-party democracy  to improve the bills through a process that complies with legal requirements for bill adoption in the Parliament.

Ms Mhagama stated that the meeting was a success and that stakeholders shared their opinions in peace, complementing the Council for organising the meeting. She stated that the government would continue to help the Council in the implementation of its goals.

On his part, the Registrar of Political Parties, Judge Francis Mutungi said that the gathering serves as a directive from President Samia, who received the task force’s report aimed at assessing the state of politics in the country. One of the specific directives was to enhance both electoral laws and political party regulations.

He commended the President for her efforts in supporting and expanding democracy in the nation, noting that the Council meeting is founded on such efforts to ensure the country democracy’s survival.

Various leaders who attended the meeting included the representative from the office of the Second Vice-President of Zanzibar, Hamza Hassan Duma, the Da es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Albert Chalamila and the Deputy Speaker of the Zanzibar House of Representatives, Mgeni Hassan Juma.

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