Union presidential election not affected by Zanzibar crisis: NEC

Thursday October 29 2015

National Electoral Commission (NEC), chairman

National Electoral Commission (NEC), chairman Damian Lubuva 

By Syriacus Buguzi The Citizen Reporter

Dar es Salaam. The cancellation of elections in Zanzibar will not affect the compilation and announcement of Union presidential election results, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) said yesterday.

NEC chairman Damian Lubuva said the commission had the constitutional mandate to proceed with the electoral process in Tanzania mainland despite the postponement of presidential and House of Representatives elections in Zanzibar.

However, leaders of the opposition coalition Ukawa maintained yesterday that the Union elections must also be called off, saying the Union and Zanzibar electoral processes were “intertwined’’.

Ukawa co-chairman James Mbatia said during a press conference that irregularities which were cited as reasons for nullifying the Zanzibar elections were also observed in some constituencies in Tanzania mainland.

“ZEC cannot nullify the elections in Zanzibar and expect that this won’t affect the Union process,’’ said Mr James Mbatia, who is the MP-elect for Vunjo Constituency in Kilimanjaro Region.

But Mr Justice (rtd) Lubuva said that the electoral bodies in the Isles and the Mainland were being guided by two different constitutions, and added that NEC had already announced the presidential results for the Isles and would proceed with the results for the Union.

“The Zanzibar elections are guided by the 1984 Zanzibar Constitution but the Union elections are guided by the 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania,’’ he said.

Reached for comment, law professor Issa Shivji told The Citizen that it was too early to comment on a matter that has a lot of legal and constitutional complexities.

“I will have to revisit various legal and constitutional documents to be able to explain the matter,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Justice Lubuva has asked voters to ignore the opposition party leaders’ claims that the presidential results being announced by NEC were flawed and that did not tally with the “actual results”.

“We are reading the presidential results from the signed copies at the constituencies where all the political parties have their agents,’’ he said.

While displaying one of the signed hard copies of the presidential results, Mr Justice Lubuva added that in most of the constituencies, the relevant party agents had signed the exact results.

“NEC only receives the presidential results and previews. It does not alter figures. The figures released are the same with those available in the constituencies, so where does the distortion come from,” he said.

NEC also cautioned the public against trusting any presidential results that were not announced by the commission.

Meanwhile, Mr Justice Lubuva echoed the statements issued by election observers who have applauded the current election process in the country.

“It is unfortunate that some Tanzanians are criticising the election,” he said, adding that no election could be “100 per cent perfect”.

He pointed out observers from the Southern African Development Community (SADC), European Union (EU) and others who, in their early evaluation report of the election, they have said the election was peacefully conducted.

Commenting on the observers’ mission in Tanzania he said that he knew they are supposed to strictly adhere to the guidelines pertaining to observers while in the country, which is the case all over the world.

“Even in this country we believe every reasonable election observer in whatever name and whatever cover will observe the regulations and principles pertaining to observers in the country,” Mr Justice Lubuva said.

Additional reporting by Felix Lazaro