Kibaha. Chadema leaders led by their national chairman Mr Freeman Mbowe have rallied support from the clergy to establish a free electoral body in the country.
The leaders used the burial ceremony of Ephata ministries Bishop Josephat Mwingira’s father, Elias Mwingira, to call for an independent National Electoral Commission.
Hundreds of mourners attended the event which was also graced by deputy speaker Dr Tulia Ackson.
In his address, Mr Mbowe said religious leaders should use their influence to pressure the government to amend the constitution to make sure that the country has a free and fair electoral body.
Mr Mbowe also urged religious leaders in the country to pray for peace and harmony especially because this is an election year.
Mr Mbowe urged Tanzanians to cherish peace, love and harmony since they are only gifts that the almighty God has given the country.
“My special request to you (Bishop Mwangira) is that you should join forces with other religious leaders to pray for the country’s peace and harmony,” said Mr Mbowe who is the leader of the official opposition camp in the Parliament. “It takes one day to destroy a country but it might take forever to rebuild the same countr. So, we must be careful with our utterances and acts.”
“There is need for religious leaders to pray for political leaders so that they should stop being proud and serve the people in accordance to the laws,” said Mr Mbowe.
Opposition parties and other civil society groups have been pushing for formation of an Independent electoral body over the years to no avail. A number of cases have been opened in court to challenge the mandate of district and municipal council directors to act as returning officers during the polls. The Court of Appeal nullified the decision by the High Court and reinstated district executive directors (DEDs) as election returning officers in October, saying they always swore to uphold fairness.
The High Court of Tanzania had nullified Article 7 and 7(A) of the National Elections Act (Cap 343 of 2010) which allowed directors to execute duties on behalf of NEC.
The appointment of Electoral Commissioners by the President is another area of concern by the pro-democracy forces who argue the process was skewed to favour CCM.
On February 3, Chadema announced it had wrote an official public letter to President John Magufuli, asking him to call for a national dialogue over the push for a free and fair electoral process. The party during the last independent celebrations extended its willingness to dialogue for the sake of securing a stable nation.
Dr Ackson urged people not to judge one another for their acts because only God has the right to do so. She said everything that was happeing was done under the law.
Others who attended the ceremony were the director of presidential communications Gerson Msigwa, NCCR Mageuzi chairman James Mbatia, Chadema Secretary General John Mnyika and scores of religious leaders.
Responding to Mr Mbowe, Bishop Mwingira urged for patience.
“I have known you (Mr Mbowe) for quite some time now and I know that despite the circumstances, you are still a patience man,” said Bishop Mwingira. He added; “As politicians you should always never give up even my father taught me never to give up in life.” Bishop Mwingira’s father died on January 22 and was buried yesterday in Kibaha.