The Interim Election Observation team of the Tanganyika Law Society has called for a review of the country’s Constitution and the electoral laws in advance of the 2015 General Election.
This comes on the eve of the swearing in of the new president of the Union government.
Members of the observer team cited constitutional limitations on the right to take part in one’s government either directly or through freely chosen representatives and citizen’s ability to challenge the elections of the President.
The report availed to this paper yesterday and signed by TLS President Felix Kibodya said the right is clearly enumerated by Article 21 of the United Nations Declaration on Human and People’s Rights and is enshrined in the country’s Constitution by the Eighth Amendment Act, 1992 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania.
“The provisions in the Constitution limit this right – for all elected positions - to candidates affiliated with political parties,” said TLS president.
Kibodya said that sub-article 7 of Article 41 of the constitution also limits a citizen’s ability to challenge the elections of the President.
The observers also doubted the autonomy of the National Electoral Commission as per constitution.
“The functioning of the commission might be perceived to lack autonomy from the President with whom the power of appointment vests over the Commissioners of the NEC,” he said.
He however said with all limitation, the commission has in this year’s elections been more professional and that the results are credible.
“But we are recommending that the commission should make a greater effort to educate voters in advance of the elections, not only about polling day, but on all other matters touching on the general elections, including how the elections will be administered,” said Kibodya.
On the Election Expenses Act which was passed more or less in advance of the party nominations in 2010 he said various issues have been raised with regard to whether the law, in fact, provides a level playing field for all political parties and candidates.
Kibodya cited the requirement for a donors to disclose their name, address and other particulars, may expose them to potential risk or discrimination for being affiliated with a particular party and may, therefore, serve as a deterrent to donors, especially those of opposition parties.
The report brought to the fore the issue of whether the Registrar for Political Parties has the capacity to efficiently supervise and administer election expenses under this Act.
“In this regard, we have observed that the Registrar relies heavily on the Prevention and Combating Corruption Bureau (PCCB),” said Kibodya.
He said the National Elections Act was enacted to define the parameters for the Parliamentary and Presidential Elections.
He said however that, various issues have been raised with regard to the capacity of the NEC to adequately enforce the provisions of the law and regulate the same in accordance with the law, particularly with regard to advertising and campaigns by political parties.
“It is therefore, recommended that there is a need for a consultative review of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and the electoral laws in advance of the 2015 General Elections,” said Kibodya.