Reforms set to transform NEC operations

DODOMA: IN what clearly describes implementation of President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s 4Rs philosophy, the government yesterday tabled in Parliament three crucial Bills seeking to have an independent electoral commission and addressing key democratic reforms that aim at bringing a level political playing field in the coming elections.

The Bills that were moved for the first reading in the House are the National Electoral Commission Bill 2023, the Political Parties Affairs Laws (Amendment), Bill 2023 and the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections Bill, 2023.

The National Electoral Commission Bill 2023 has come up with a new formula to have a structure of the electoral body by establishing a special committee responsible for a process for recruitment of the Director of Elections and commissioners.

Unlike in the previous system where the President had been bestowed with full powers of appointing the Director of Elections and members of the commission, the bill has set new procedures whereby in any appointment of election commissioners, an interview committee will first meet to scrutinise and interview applicants for the positions before forwarding the approved names to the President for Confirmation.

The four-member committee is composed of the Chief Justices from both the mainland (chairperson) and Zanzibar (Vice-chairperson), Chairperson and Vice Chairperson of the Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG) and one member who will be recommended by the President by considering gender aspect. The Committee’s Secretary is the Director of Elections.

According to the bill, the committee is supposed to forward to the President an extra of four names above the number of commissioners as per the requirement of the law.

The Director of Elections will now be appointed by the President after his/her name has been proposed by the commission following a rigorous vetting process.

He/She according to the Bill should be a Tanzanian citizen by birth, trustful and of highest integrity, possess at least a bachelor’s degree and should be a senior officer in the public service.

The Bill also proposes that the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson will be required to be judges of the Court of Appeal and the High Court with qualities to be an advocate practicing for not less than 15 years.

The Political Parties Affairs Laws (Amendment), Bill 2023 has come up with conditions for political parties to hold rallies and processions.

The proposed Bill specifies that political party processions will take place in accordance with the Police Force and Auxiliary Services Act.

The aim of the amendment is to harmonise the provisions of the Bill with the provisions of the Police Force and Auxiliary Services Act which specify the procedure to be observed before and during processions or meetings.

Also, the new Bill now allows political parties to form coalitions even during by-elections in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

Section 13A is proposed to be amended to require any person who becomes aware that another person has committed or intends to commit any offence under the Act to inform the Registrar of Political Parties. The aim of this amendment is to timely prevent commission of offences and ensure that measures are taken against a person who violates the provisions of the Act.

It also proposes to amend the Election Expenses Act, Cap. 278 and the Political Parties Act, Cap. 258 to strengthen the role of the Registrar of Political Parties in monitoring the activities of political parties as well as strengthening compliance with laws and regulations in the activities of political parties.

The Bill also proposes amendments to the Election Expenses Act, Cap.278. Section 7 to remove the requirement for candidates to submit to the Executive Director, District Administrative Secretary and Ward Executive Officer notification on the campaign team and instead submit it to the Returning Officer and Assistant Returning Officer. The aim of this amendment is to ensure that the notification is submitted to the right authority.

The Bill also proposes political parties should be included in the gender and social inclusion policy to increase participation of women and special groups in political activities within political parties.

Another legislation that was tabled yesterday is the Presidential, Parliamentary and Local Government Elections Bill, 2023, which now restricts candidates vying for parliamentary seats sailing unopposed, instead the candidate will be allowed to campaign and be voted by a Yes or No vote during elections.

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