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Lowassa calls for comprehensive electoral reforms

Wednesday September 19 2018
Lowasa pic

Former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa

Dar es Salaam. Former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa said on Tuesday September 18 that Tanzania must urgently undertake electoral reforms to make it a genuinely democratic country.

As things stand, Mr Lowassa said the National Electoral Commission (Nec) is firmly under the State, and that it the serves interests of the CCM-led government.

“If we want to conduct elections which meet all democratic standards, then we must have a Nec which is independent from the executive arm of the government. Otherwise, they will continue to declare CCM candidates as winners in all elections,” he told The Citizen’s sister paper Mwananchi yesterday.

Mr Lowassa was commenting on Sunday’s parliamentary and civic by-elections in two constituencies and 21 wards in which CCM won all seats. In the by-election in Monduli Constituency, the ruling party’s candidate, Mr Julius Kalanga, was declared the winner, with Nec announcing that he garnered 65,714 votes, which was equivalent to 95 per cent of all votes cast.

Similarly, CCM’s Mwita Waitara was announced the winner of the Ukonga Constituency by-election after collecting 77,795 votes, which was equivalent to 89.19 per cent of all votes. According to Mr Lowassa, if Tanzania’s elections are to be free and fair, Nec should to be overhauled, and suggested that an independent body be formed to monitor the former’s actions.

“Under the current Nec setup, executive directors at district and municipal levels, who are presidential appointees, are also entrusted with the roles of returning officers for parliamentary elections….election supervisors at the ward level are public servants. Under this arrangement, there is no way we can have credible elections,” he said.

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Mr Lowassa, who held the Monduli parliamentary seat for 25 years from 1990 to 2015, claimed that even the Buyungu by-election was rigged, noting that it was disheartening to see someone who performs poorly in public office promoted.

“It was the former returning officer for Buyungu by-election who rigged the election, but instead of taking disciplinary measures against him, the following day he received a promotion to become the executive director of Temeke Municipality in Dar es Salaam,” he said, in apparent reference to Mr Lusubilo Mwakabibi, who was appointed by President John Magufuli on August 13.

Mr Lowassa, who was Prime Minister during the early years of Retired President Jakaya Kikwete’s leadership, wants Tanzania to borrow a leaf from Kenya where election officials can be sued in their personal capacities.

“The situation here is very bad. It is not as good as it is in Kenya,” he said.

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