Tanzania’s electoral body promises to stick to high court ruling

Wednesday June 19 2019

Tanzania’s electoral body,The National Electoral Commission, High Court, NEC chairman, Semistocles Kaijage,

 

By Damas Kanyabwoya

Dar es Salaam. The National Electoral Commission has today said it will stick to the High Court ruling that outlawed deploying district executive officers as Returning officers in elections.
NEC chairman Semistocles Kaijage told reporters today in Dar es Salaam that the Electoral Commission will not use city directors, municipal directors,town directors and district executive directors as Returning officers in future elections as long as the status quo of the court ruling still stands.

Tanzania is expected to hold General Election in October 2020.

"A case was filed against specific sections of the National Elections Act 2015 and the court's ruling was on those specific sections of the law, the ruling was not on the entire law. And as such we plan to adhere to the court's ruling," judge Kaijage noted.

The High Court on May 10 this year said sections 7(1) and 7(3) were unconstitutional. Section 7(1) says; "...every city director, municipal director, town director and district executive director shall be a returning officer for the purposes of conducting an election

in a constituency and such returning officer may be for more than one constituency."
Section 7(3) also enables NEC to appoint any person holding a public office ‘by name or by office to be a returning officer’.

 Both sections have been deemed unconstitutional.

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Reading the ruling on May 10 Lady Justice Atuganile Ngala said the two sections contradict Article 74(14) of the Constitution. She sided petitioners that the National Elections Act errs by not providing any guarantees to ensure the independence of the returning officers appointed by NEC. The government said it would appeal the High Court ruling.

The ruling rekindled hope of a more independent NEC and addressed longtime concerns by the opposition and other stakeholders over the use of holders of public officers who are directly appointed by the President.

Stakeholders said many of the Returning officers were cadres  of the ruling party something that puts into question their partiallity.

Meanwhile Judge (rtrd) Kaijage said electoral laws bar party cadres from serving in NEC in any capacity whether as commissioners or returning officers.

He said any person appointed or employed to serve at NEC and who happens to be a cadre of a political party should  cease to be a member of that party.

"There are forms that everyone working for NEC must sign to declare that they are not members of any political party," Judge (rtrd) Kaijage said.

He was addressing concerns that some of the commissioners of NEC were cadres of the ruling party, CCM. He said, in fact, that some NEC officials had been disbarred in the past for continuing to serve as political party cadres.