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How democratic were TLS’ 2021 elections? pray?

Thursday April 29 2021
Hosea pic

Dr Edward Hosea is the new President of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS).

By Karl Lyimo

Not many people know much – if at all – about the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS), which is among the few ‘olde worlde’ establishments still alive and very much active in our Motherland.

Established about 66 years ago under the 1954 Tanganyika Law Society Ordinance, TLS is part and parcel of the Bar Association of Tanzania. It was later reconstituted through the Tanganyika Law Society Act (CAP. 307 R.E. 2002).

A Bar Association/Bar Council is a professional grouping of lawyers “as generally organized in some countries on the lines of the Anglo-American types of Jurisprudence.”

Some Bar Associations are responsible for the regulation of the legal profession in their jurisdiction, while others are professional organizations dedicated to serving their members. But, in many cases, Bar Associations-cum-Councils do both tasks.

TLS was established with a clear mandate to assist the Government and the Courts in matters of legislation administration and practice of the law in Tanzania... And also “to protect and assist Tanzanians in all matters touching, ancillary or incidental to law.”

On April 15-16 this year, TLS held its Annual General Meeting and General Conference in Arusha whose theme was ‘The Future of the Legal Profession in Tanzania: Challenges and Opportunities.’

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At the end of the meetings, the Society conducted general elections which (in part) saw to a veteran legal-eagle and leader of an assortment of upper-level local and international institutions, Dr Edward Hosea, elected TLS President on April 17, 2021, for the 2021/2022 year.

In the process, he virtually beat hands-down other presidential election candidates, garnering 297 of the 802 votes cast by electors.

Other candidates (and the votes they garnered shown in brackets) were the director of Business & Human Rights Centre-Tanzania, Ms Flaviana Charles (223 votes); Shehzada Walli, Founder-cum-Partner of Dar-based Stallion Attorneys (192 votes); Albert Msando, Arusha-based Partner-cum-Advocate (69 votes), and Francis Stolla, TLS President in 2011 (17 votes). [Nipashe: April 17, 2021].

Apparently, elections were also held for the positions of Vice President; Honorary Treasurer; National Chairperson of the Ethics Committee; Six/Seven Members of the TLS Council; Five Members of the Remunerations Committee, and a Representative to the Advocates’ Committee...

We are told that some 5,286 TLS members registered to vote in the said elections – but only a measly 802 voted on polling day! What does this mean, when you have a whopping 4,477 registered voters who were not able, willing or ready to vote for one reason or another?

Why didn’t such a big number of registered voters – about 85 percent – cast their otherwise precious ballot papers after they apparently had been able, willing and ready to register to vote, pray?

The number of lawyers in Tanzania is difficult to determine with a degree of certainty. Ditto for the number of TLS members – although we are told 5,286 registered to vote in the just-ended Elections...

An ‘election’ is generally defined as “a formal group decision-making process by which people choose an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office...’ [/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Election>].

So, the last/latest TLS elections somewhat fit the bill... Except that, in My Book of Things, they were not truly ‘democratic.’

I say so if only because only a measly 802 out of the relatively whopping number of 5,286 registered/prospective electors voted to put in Office the Society’s leaders for the next one year...

And, this coming from our lawyers...? Sheesh!