Lipumba challenges youth to influence future of electoral politics

What you need to know:

  • The seasoned economist cum politician underscored the pivotal role of the youth engagement in shaping the laws and in acting as the driving force behind the nation

Dar es Salaam. Prof Ibrahim Lipumba has urged young leaders to meticulously examine the political and electoral legislation reforms proposed by the government and come up with recommendations that will render the laws advantageous to them.

Speaking at a youth dialogue forum on Tuesday in his capacity as the chairperson of the Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD), Prof Lipumba told the youth to ensure that the proposed new laws address concerns identified in previous electoral processes.

On November 10, 2023, the government tabled in Parliament three key Bills namely the National Electoral Commission Bill, the Presidential, Parliamentary, and Local Government Election Bill, and the Political Parties Act.

The National Electoral Commission Bill is a new law that provides for the creation of an independent electoral commission. The Constitution establishes the current National Electoral Commission (NEC).

The Political Parties Act incorporates amendments to the Political Parties Act of 1992 (revised in 2019) and the Election Expenses Act of 2010 (revised in 2015).

Currently, the parliamentary Governance, Constitution and Legal Affairs Committee is hearing views from different stakeholders.

The Tuesday youth forum was convened to deliberate on the proposed pieces of legislation. Prof Lipumba, who ran for the presidency in past elections, underscored the pivotal role of the youth engagement in shaping the laws, recognising them as the driving force behind the nation.

“The current timing provides an opportune moment for youth within political parties to inspire and educate their peers, fostering a thorough scrutiny and comprehension of the proposed bills,” Prof Lipumba, who also serves as the chairperson of the opposition party, Civic United Front (CUF), said.

He expressed confidence that if President Samia Suluhu Hassan oversees the amendments to contested laws, securing the consensus of political party leaders, it would foster trust both domestically and internationally.

A constitution activist, Mr Deus Kibamba, commended some positive elements, such as the requirement in the Political Parties Act of 2023 for political parties to have gender-specific policies, a mandate that was not obligatory previously.

He also highlighted the positive aspect of the Election Bill, which proposes the establishment of election coordinators in each region, aiming to rectify past election irregularities.

On the other hand, Mr Kibamba criticised certain provisions of the electoral bills, pointing out areas that he deemed in need of improvement.

He noted that several proposed sections contradicted the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania. He also observed that some terms in the bills lacked clear interpretation, and the three bills exhibited insensitivity to gender representation in politics and leadership.

The Dutch ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Wiebe De Boer, appreciated the youth's role in democracy, saying that’s why the embassy decided to sponsor TCD to bring young people together for discussions on electoral laws.

He urged young political leaders to leverage their influence to advocate for the enhancement of youth interests and actively participate in debates on pertinent issues, including the proposed legislation.

Various youth representatives from political parties such as Chadema, CCM, ACT-Wazalendo, NCCR Mageuzi, Chama Cha Ukombozi wa Umma, CUF, and civil society organisations participated in the debate.