Tanzania election director: Our officers are legally not going to resign

What you need to know:

  • The bottom of the matter lies in recent amendments to the INEC law, which state that the high-ranking positions should be filled through a competitive application process.

Dar es Salaam. The Director of Elections for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mr Athumani Kailima, has addressed the pressing concerns about the legal standing of the Commission's leadership.

His statements on June 13, 2024, came amid growing calls from the ACT -Wazalendo party for the resignation of top INEC officials, including the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, and Members, to facilitate a competitive vetting process.

The bottom of the matter lies in recent amendments to the INEC law, which state that the high-ranking positions should be filled through a competitive application process.

The ACT Wazalendo party has since taken a firm stance on this issue, boycotting the Kwahani by-election to underscore their demand for the resignation of current commission members.

The opposition party argues that the lack of a competitive selection process undermines the integrity of the electoral body.

However, Mr Kailima was unequivocal in his response during a meeting with journalists from various media outlets. "There is no legal provision requiring our officers to resign from their positions to allow for a competitive selection process," he asserted.

He pointed out that the legitimacy of these officials is enshrined in Section 27 of the INEC Act of 2024. This section clearly states, "Upon the commencement of this Act, any person who is the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson, or Member of the Commission shall continue to hold office until their term expires."

Mr Kailima's remarks sought to dispel any legal doubts and refocus public attention on the law's current stipulations. "You should ask those complaining, what law requires these officers to resign," he challenged, emphasising that those calling for the officials' resignation must substantiate their demands with legal grounds.

Addressing another point of contention, Mr Kailima clarified the commission's role concerning local government elections. He noted that some individuals erroneously believe that the Constitution mandates INEC to oversee these elections.

"The commission should oversee local government elections according to a law enacted by Parliament, which has not yet been enacted," he explained.

As a result, the responsibility for these elections falls to the President’s Office-Regional Administration, and Local Government, not INEC.

In the same briefing, INEC Chairperson Judge Jacobs Mwambegele provided an update on the commission's ongoing efforts to improve the Permanent Voter Register.

This initiative is slated to launch on July 1, 2024, in the Kigoma region. According to him, the update is crucial for ensuring the accuracy and inclusivity of the voter register, especially in light of the 2022 Population and Housing Census.

The commission expects to register 5,586,433 new voters, representing an 18.7 percent increase from the 29,754,699 voters in the register following the 2019/20 update.

Additionally, INEC plans to update the information of 4,369,531 voters and remove 594,494 individuals who no longer qualify to remain on the register.

"This improvement will be launched in the Kigoma region," announced Mwambegele, highlighting the extensive logistical preparations for this endeavour. The commission has designated 40,126 voter registration centers for the 2024 update, with 39,709 centers on the Mainland and 417 in Zanzibar.

In an appeal to the media, Judge Mwambegele underscored the vital role of journalism in mobilizing the community. "The media has a crucial role in encouraging citizens to participate in updating the permanent voter register because it has the power to reach places that are otherwise unreachable in normal circumstances," he said.

His remarks stressed the importance of widespread civic engagement to ensure a comprehensive and accurate voter register.

Today's press briefing by INEC highlighted both the legal steadfastness of its leadership and its proactive measures to enhance the electoral process.

As the debate over the commission's leadership continues, INEC remains focused on its mandate to uphold electoral integrity and transparency, inviting scrutiny and dialogue to foster a robust democratic framework in Tanzania.