Disqualified TLS candidate mulls challenging removal in the court

Boniface Mwabukusi

Dar es Salaam. The complaint by Boniface Mwabukusi about being removed irregularly from the list of presidential candidates for the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) has taken a new turn after the lawyer said yesterday that he would request a review of the decision at the High Court on a certificate of urgency.

The decision by Mr Mwabukusi to submit a review request today (Wednesday) on a certificate of urgency stems from the fact that he wants urgent action so he can exercise his right to contest the TLS presidency before August 2, 2024, when the elections will be held in Dodoma.

Mr Mwabukusi said on July 5, 2024 that the reason for his removal was allegedly in the national interest, stemming from a penalty for breaching legal ethics.

However, lawyers defending Mr Mwabukusi argued that he had already served his penalty and should not be punished again for the same offence.

They also contended that the individual who filed the objection did not have the qualifications under TLS election rules to challenge candidates unless they were a candidate, agent, or nominee for the relevant position.

These lawyers disagreed with the second penalty imposed on Mr Mwabukusi, arguing that it was aimed at persecuting him and depriving him of his right to choose and run within TLS.

Mr Mwabukusi is among six candidates approved by the TLS Election Committee to run for president on June 24, 2024, including Ibrahim Bendera (Ilala), Emmanuel Muga (Ilala), Revocatus Kuuli (Mzizima), Paul Kaunda (Western Zone), and Sweetbert Nkuba (Kinondoni).

Mr Mwabukusi confirmed to The Citizen’s sister paper, Mwananchi yesterday that he had already taken the decision to court and that tomorrow (today) they would submit it urgently.

“We have already taken the appeal of the appellate committee’s decision, and tomorrow (today) we will submit it urgently to the court. I assure the public that my rights will be upheld before the election,” he said.

Mr Mwabukusi’s decision to go to court was motivated by his dissatisfaction with the decision to remove his name in what he deemed was against the procedures.

Commenting on Mr Mwabukusi’s removal, the secretary of the TLS Election Committee, Mr Nelson Frank, said: “According to Law Society Announcement GN 598 of 2022, Rule 13c, among other things, a presidential candidate should have no ethical blemish.”

“There is a standing judgment against Mwabukusi that has not been annulled by anybody, hence it remains. Therefore, the TLS Election Appeals Committee concluded that he has an ethical blemish and thus does not meet the criteria for presidential candidacy,” he said.

Asked why the Election Committee initially cleared the lawyer if he had ethical issues, Mr Frank explained that it was a process.

“The TLS has an Election Committee and an Election Appeals Committee, so these are two different bodies. Initially, in the process, the Election Committee saw, in one way or another that he met the criteria and found him suitable for the presidency, but there is a higher body, which is the TLS Election Appeals Committee. When it reached that higher level, they considered that since there is a standing judgment and he was convicted due to ethical reasons, they saw a blemish,” he said.

Without naming the appellant, Frank said that some individuals who were not satisfied had lodged appeals.

He emphasised that these appeals are an internal process of society, and the next step is campaigning.

 “If someone is not satisfied with the decision within the society, they can take further steps outside the society.”

Asked why his appeal was decided on the last day, he said it was a process where if someone is dissatisfied with the lower process, the Appeals Committee hears the appeal and makes the final decision.

“The rules state that we should not proceed to the next stage before completing and deciding on the previous stage. For example, if there were appeals, they must be heard and decided before campaigning. That’s why on June 24, 2024, the Election Committee said these candidates were fit to run within the society, but some were not satisfied, so they appealed to the Appeals Committee, so today it was necessary for decisions to be made, for example, until today seven appeals had to be heard, because that’s the law, that decisions should come out before the campaign,” he said.