NEC calls for change of election laws as opposition boycott event

Sunday August 22 2021
NEC PIC

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) Chairman Judge Semistocles Kaijage speaking during the handing over ceremony of the 2020 general election report at the State House in Dar es Salaam yesterday. Right is the President Samia Suluhu Hassan. PHOTO|ERICKY BONIPHACE

By Louis Kalumbia

Dar es Salaam. The National Electoral Commission (NEC) yesterday issued seven recommendations that it says would improve future polls in the country.

The recommendations that signal demand for major reforms include the enactment of a new law that will increase its efficiency in the execution of NEC duties and recruitment of election officials to the council’s level.

Others are merging electoral laws (the National Election Act Cap 343 and the Local Government Election Act Cap 292) to ease election supervision, both the general and civic polls so they would be supervised by one authority; provide financial assistance to institutions and civil society organizations permitted to provide civic education; as well as voting candidates deemed to passed unopposed.

NEC chairman Judge (rtd) Semistocles Kaijage issued the list at the Magogoni State House when handing over the 2020 General Election report to President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

The event was boycotted by major political parties: Chadema, ACT-Wazalendo, NCCR-Mageuzi and CUF over what they described as looming irregularities that marred the October 28, 2020 elections such that it was as if ‘no elections had been held’.

For years, opposition political parties and analysts have called for major reforms starting with a new constitution to ensure that the country obtains an independent, trustful and credible electoral body to supervise polls.

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Speaking to The Citizen over the phone shortly after the event, ACT-Wazalendo secretary general Ado Shaibu said the new constitution was something that would provide the country with an independent electoral system.

“NEC recommendations have not touched on the core problems. The commission needs to be free from state control,” he said.

Chadema’s deputy secretary general Benson Kigaila said the party would issue a stance over the matter after an in-depth discussion and analysis.

However, he said the country needed an independent electoral commission like those in Zambia, Ghana, Malawi and Kenya that would not receive directives from the Executive.

“NEC has failed to oversee the available laws despite available weaknesses. Instead of giving recommendations, NEC executives were supposed to resign from their positions,” he said.

CUF secretary general Haroub Mohammed Shamis said the electoral body shouldn’t constitute executives appointed by someone who would later turn out to be a candidate.

“The Commission should be formed as described in the Judge (rtd) Joseph Warioba’s draft constitution. Executives should be vetted before appointment. Laws and regulations should allow arraignment in case they disrupt elections,” he said.

Independent political analyst Buberwa Kaiza said the Commission’s structure should be well defined and allow formation of committees to oversee polls at the village, ward, constituency and national levels and entrust executive officers with the committee secretary roles.

“Presidential election results should be announced alongside those of MPs in the constituency and laws should allow them to be challenged before the court,” he said.

Speaking during the event, President Hassan expressed her worries that recruitment of election officials to the council level as well as financial empowerment to CSOs providing civic education would adversely add expenditure during the process.

“Let us leave the matter under stakeholders’ debate and see what best the government can do. However, all the recommendations are genuine,” he said.

She said more education should be given to increase the number of women vying for political posts, calling on the women to raise their confidence and political parties’ trust on women to increase.

“We should also prepare ourselves for increased use of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) in election processes in alignment with world demands and enable participation of more Tanzanians,” she said.

The Head of State said laws should be reviewed to prevent denying citizens the right to contest for leadership positions, citing incidents where some leadership aspirants were disqualified last year for minor mistakes made when filling their nomination forms.