Wednesday, July 31, 2013

MY TAKE ON THIS : My polite reminder to fill gaps in poll funding law

Peter Nyanje is the News Editor  of the Weekend

Peter Nyanje is the News Editor  of the Weekend editions of the Citizen 

By Peter Nyanje ;

The country is currently engrossed in a debate on the new constitution. This debate virtually has many other things on the back bench.

As a result of the Katiba debate, the country has found itself failing to debate in detail many other important issues.

One of such matters is the 2015 General Election. The rhetoric that time for discussing polls is not ripe yet aims at making the nation forget about this important opportunity for Tanzanians to perform their duty of deciding through the ballot box about their leaders who will govern their affairs for the next five years.

There is a need to give 2015 General Election countdown more space in our debates because, as we speak, many of those who harbour the desire to become Tanzanian leaders, including the top most posts, the presidency, have already begun the race.

There are a lot of things which have started to happen and they don’t happen by accident. Many of these things are orchestrated as hopefuls roll out their strategies.

Unfortunately, many people fail to connect these events to the 2015 polls because they are ill informed on what is going on as far as the next General Election is concerned.

It is sensible that as candidates roll out their strategies, the people should also be informed of what is going on around them as far as the 2015 polls is concerned.

Without such information, they will be in danger of misjudging some events as well as people. This might jeopardise their ability to make balanced and informed decisions come 2015.

The state should also get itself ready for dealing with these things. Among things which the government should look at is the improvement of laws governing elections, notably the Election Financing Act.

This particular Act needs heavy improvements because even before the electoral process has started earnestly, the nation is witnessing immense usage of money in underground campaigns.

On one hand, this money is used to strengthen some candidates while on the other hand the same is used to weaken the opponents.

Many people have started to receive numerous forms of donations, gifts and assistance in various forms and little do they know that they are being slowly bought into certain election camps. This is very dangerous.

There should be a mechanism of safeguarding people from these candidates with a lot of funds. If we allow these funds to influence the decision makers – the voters – we will not have credible leaders in 2015.

The government should also move quickly to strengthen election management bodies in order to make them immune from intervention by people with money.

This should go hand in hand with a process of improving legal mechanisms in order to ensure we conduct perfect elections in 2015 which will give the nation and its people leaders who take national interests at heart.

Debate on the new constitution should be conducted in isolation because the aim is to make a major law which will accommodate all other laws.

Therefore, as we continue with the new Katiba talks, we should also see how other important issues are reflected in that major law.

Otherwise, we will have a constitution which is not responsive to some of the people’s needs.

Mr Nyanje is The Citizen Political and Production Editor