Dodoma. Differences of opinion over the Political Parties (Amendment) Bill, 2018, shifted to Parliament yesterday with legislators appearing vividly divided in support of their political parties’ positions irrespective of whether they were in line with those of Tanzanians or not.
Some lawmakers criticised the Bill on grounds that it gave more powers to the Registrar of Political Parties, which they said was a well-orchestrated move to weaken Opposition parties. For their part, ruling party MPs defended the draft law, saying it was seeking to promote accountability among political parties.
Opposition spokesperson in the Shadow Prime Minister’s Office Esther Bulaya said the Bill was bad because it gave the Registrar of Political Parties immunity from being prosecuted in the event that the latter chose to tilt decisions in favour of anyone within the political system.
Furthermore, she added, no civic education would be offered to political parties without the permission of the Registrar, who would also have the power to demand any information from political parties.
But the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitution and Legal Affairs, Mr Mohamed Mchengerwa, said the Bill had several good provisions, including a ban on party militia.
“The committee concurs with the government that all political parties should enjoy security from the government as per the Political Parties Law,” said Mr Mchengerwa. Madaba MP Joseph Mhagama (CCM) hailed the amendments as good and aimed at promoting accountability and transparency among political parties.
“If we don’t start promoting good governance in political parties, don’t expect to observe it in government,” he warned.
Mbinga Urban MP Sixtus Mapunda (CCM) said: “Political parties are the guardians of government leaders.”
The amendments are meant to shape them (leaders).”
The amendments also aims at giving the registrar with powers to suspend grand of subvention to a political party for specified or unspecified period where he believes that management of the party which includes its trustee is not able to account for or supervise accountability of such funds. It also empowers the Registrar to request the Controller and Auditor General to carry out a special audit on finances of any political party is he gets dissatisfied with management of the resources of any given political party.
Moreover, the registrar may, in the execution of the functions and responsibilities under this Act, demand from a party, a leader or members any information as may be required for implementation.
“The powers vested into the political registrar is too much to the extent of infringing into political parties rights,” said Ms Bulaya.
Her views were echoed by Kawe MP Halima Mdee (Chadema), saying the bill was meant to suppress opposition parties.
“If government’s security organs were neutral, then it would be okay to do without security groups. But truth be told, opposition political parties are the ones to be hurt by the amendments because the country’s security organs are working for CCM,” said Ms Mdee.