NEC denies plot to lock out opposition candidates in 2020 polls

Thursday August 13 2020

National Electoral Commission's Semistocles

National Electoral Commission's Semistocles Kaijage 

By Louis Kolumbia

 Dar es Salaam. The National Electoral Commission chairman Semistocles Kaijage has dismissed claims that it is planning to lockout candidates of some opposition parties from participating in this year’s General Election.

Chadema presidential candidate for the United Republic Tundu Lissu and ACT-Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe recently raised such concerns separately at different occasions.

The duo alleged that during the nomination of candidates of presidential and parliamentary seats slated for August 28, 2020, the electoral body (NEC) intended to disqualify members from key opposition political parties, therefore preventing them from taking part in this year’s elections.

But, reacting on the claims, Judge Kaijage said: “Those are mere suppositions; but there’s no way we can stop someone from thinking about this or that. To make such allegations, they are supposed to specifically name the person making such mischief.”

Adding, “The truth is that there is no such plan within the Commission.”

Commenting on the concern, the director of elections of NEC, Dr Wilson Charles, said candidates would be locked out if they failed to conform to the requirements indicated in the position they are applying for.

Advertisement

They include the candidates’ age and nationality; approval by a political party; one who hasn’t been convicted on economic sabotage crimes and one who has been sponsored by an appropriate number of registered members.

“They will be treated equally in the same manner we did during collection of nomination forms. They should only abide by the election laws, regulations and Codes of Ethics all political parties have signed before the process,” he said.

Chadema’s Lissu and ACT-Wazalendo leader have pointed an accusing finger at the electoral body claiming that it was plotting to clear the victory path for CCM candidates.

Mr Lissu made such claims during Chadema’s general congress held at the Mlimani City Conference Centre on August 4, 2020, before repeating similar concerns during the ACT-Wazalendo general assembly where he was invited. But, on Tuesday, Mr Lissu cautioned the electoral body to distance itself from making mischiefs that would see his party’s candidates eliminated from the race in order to rescue the ruling party.

He said Tanzanians would like to get its leaders through the ballot box under fair and free circumstances, instead of providing CCM with victory on the table.

“They shouldn’t try to eliminate our candidates as they did during last year’s civic polls. This time we will not accept arbitrary elimination of our candidates in order to favour CCM,” he said.

Yesterday, Mr Kabwe tweeted: “We have reports that NEC is planning to lockout presidential and parliamentary seat candidates from some opposition parties ahead of this year’s General Election.”

He added, “I’m cautioning Judge Kaijage (NEC chairman) to avoid legalizing this injustice; otherwise there would be ‘No Elections’.”

When sought for clarifications, Mr Kabwe said reliable sources within NEC and security agencies have assured him of the said plans.

He said strategies similar to ‘what happened during the 2019 civic polls’ were expected to be implemented in order to benefit the ruling party to get an easy win.

“We will mobilize people to prevent elections from happening if our candidates will be disqualified. We will not tolerate repetition of what happened last year,” he said insisting on his statement “there would be ‘No Elections’”.

NEC declared Wednesday, October 28, 2020 as an Election Day. Presidential candidates started collecting nomination forms from August 5, this would continue until August 25, this year.

Those nominated by their parties for parliamentary seats and councillorship positions started collecting the document yesterday and will continue until August 25, when candidates for all the three positions would be nominated by the electoral body.

According to the schedule released by the electoral body, campaigns will commence on August 26 and will be concluded on October 27, this year.