Dar es Salaam. The Tanzania Constitution Forum (TCF) yesterday called for amendment of the Constitution and other laws, including those governing elections, to bar politicians who defect from their parties from running for political office.
TCF made the call in the wake of the current wave of defections by MPs and councillors from the opposition to the ruling CCM.
However, TCF did not specify how long the defectors should be barred from vying for political posts. Most of those who have defected so far have said that they have done so after being satisfied by the pace of President John Magufuli’s government in bringing about development.
Four MPs and at least 75 councillors have defected to CCM in recent months. The MPs include Mr Maulid Mtulia (Kinondoni-CUF) and Mr Godwin Mollel (Siha-Chadema), who have both been re-elected in the same constituencies. Others are Mr Waitara Mwita (Ukonga-Chadema) and Mr Julius Kalanga (Monduli-Chadema).
“The aim is to avoid unnecessary costs that the government incurs by organising frequent by-elections,” TCF chairman Hebron Mwakagenda said.
Two parliamentary by-elections and several ward by-elections have already been held. On Sunday, voters in 77 wards and two constituencies are expected to go to the polls.
TCF also made seven other recommendations to the government aimed at making sure that the country’s harmony is maintained.
Other recommendations include the need to allow freedom of expression.
The forum also called for the amendment of the Constitution to allow people to challenge presidential election results in court.
It also appealed for the formation of a free and independent electoral commission to oversee elections in the country.
Other proposals include the need for the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to supervise local government elections.
Currently, local government elections are supervised by the President’s Office – Regional Administration and Local Government.
Addressing participants during the meeting, Kibamba MP John Mnyika (Chadema) said, “It’s time President Magufuli agreed to revive the constitution-making process before the forthcoming 2019 local government polls and the 2020 General Election,”
He condemned NEC for what he said was its failure to effectively oversee previous ward and parliamentary by-elections in Kinondoni and Siha constituencies.
Mr Msafiri Mtemelwa, the deputy secretary general of ACT Wazalendo, said he was not satisfied with the contribution of prominent academics in the push for a new constitution. Yesterday’s meeting brought together stakeholders from various political parties, non-governmental organisations and civil society organisations in the country.