EDITORIAL: PCCB must be seen to act professionally by all

Sunday July 5 2020

 

Tanzanians will go to elections later in October, to elect their political office representatives namely, President, Members of Parliament and Councillors.

As has been in past elections, this year’s exercise is not expected to be any different and aspirants from both sides of the political divide are already lining up to contest the open vacancies.

Electioneering period that kicks off earnestly two months before the voting day itself sees a lot of activities as aspirants, political parties and their supporters crisscross the vast country to market themselves and sell their respective political parties’ manifestos.

Since the re-introduction of multi-party politics and the holding of the first pluralism polls in 1995, the political terrain has grown in stature. Competition has certainly been stiff. We have also witnessed a positive awakening among voters as they increasingly get to understand the implications of casting their ballots in their day to day lives.

But we have also witnessed many underhand deals as the rivals try to outdo each other and emerge victorious. Over the years some sort of electioneering culture has been building up and each passing election may witness a repeat of the same or an introduction of a new trait to the process. All in all, what we expect from these is that the protagonists will run peaceful campaigns and the best candidates win and declared as per the will of the people.

For the electioneering process to run smoothly as envisaged under the supreme law of the land, various public bodies exist to oversee the different aspects of this momentous exercise. Specifically for elections, we have the National Electoral Commission and the Registrar of Political Parties. Other support systems, such as the police (for law and order) and the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (to guard against bribery and related illicit activities) do also play a significant role in the process. Anyone of them messing up could cause untold suffering to individuals, parties and the country at large.

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Why the anti-graft body must remain impartial

Today, we will seek to address the PCCB work in the forthcoming elections. If you are an avid reader of news and follow closely current affairs or discussions online, you will agree that the anti-corruption agency has seemingly been very busy of late. Information of arrests, investigations or simple warnings to political aspirants have been on the increase. This would be expected, given their work to fight voter bribery and electioneering corruption.

The agency officials have paraded several suspects and items they said were found as aspirants allegedly plotted to bribe voters. Among the items PCCB this week reported to have recovered in the crackdown were CCM branded merchandise found with one would-be-candidate. Earlier reports were of arrests, either of aspirants or their agents with money the agency officers said was meant for voter bribery.

Some of this acts have already raised concern among parties and aspirants who are crying foul. They point out to alleged plots to block some of them from the race and have defended the use of branded merchandise during campaigns. It is indeed a very thin line for PCCB to prove voter bribery in an entranced campaign culture. It is no wonder we have seen officers arrest suspects over food offered by their candidate or aspirant. Our call is to PCCB to remain professional and impartial and desist attempts to be used politically to tilt the balance at any levels.

The organ remains critical when it comes to maintaining peace, unity and tranquillity as well as ensure polls are free and fair.