AT long last three judges of the Court of Appeal unanimously declared Godbless Lema (CHADEMA) the lawful winner of Arusha Urban constituency, in the 2010 general election.
Following days of deliberation and review of the ruling by the Arusha High Court, the Appeal judges, Salum Massati, Natalia Kimaro and Bernard Luwanda reinstated Godbless Lema as legislator for Arusha Urban.
The long-awaited ruling sparked jubilation among party members and supporters who had gathered outside the Court of Appeal building in Dar es Salaam, since early hours of Friday. Some of the party's supporters said they had anxiously waited for that moment, and were actually worried whether the 'current' would favour them or not.
"I travelled from Arusha to witness this moment. We voted for Godbless and we have faith in him," said a cheerful Anaeli Salema. Mr Lema himself was all smiles as he waved to supporters, and briefly said he thanked God that justice had prevailed.
"The judges have been fair and justice has been done. I have faith in the judicial system," Mr Lema said. Commenting, CHADEMA National Chairman Mr Freeman Mbowe told judges, especially those at the High Court to stick to professionalism and avoid outside influence when administering justice.
He suggested that the new constitution should carry a clause that would take to task those who abuse their offices, especially in the judiciary. Mr Lema's counsel, Tundu Lisu was equally elated saying that justice had prevailed at the Court of Appeal.
CHADEMA Secretary General Dr Wilbroad Slaa asked Mr Lema to continue pushing for matters that he had introduced but are now pending in the National Assembly, for the interest of the nation. After the 2010 elections, Mr Lema was declared the winner, having beaten the former Minister in the Vice-President's Office (Environment), Dr Batilda Burian (CCM).
However, her supporters, namely Mussa Mkanga, Happy Emmanuel Kivuyo and Agnes Mollel opened a case to challenge the Arusha Urban election results. From Arusha, Marc Nkwame reports that thousands of people thronged the streets to celebrate the victory of their former Member of Parliament, Mr Godbless Lema.
The Regional Security Committee held an emergency meeting chaired by the Regional Commissioner, Mr Magessa Mulongo, soon after the results of the appeal was announced. No details of the discussion were readily available. High ranking CHADEMA officials who preferred anonymity said they were organizing one of the biggest welcome rallies in Arusha to be held either on Saturday or Sunday, in which Mr Lema, Mr Freeman Mbowe (the party's national chairperson) would be the main speakers.
Convoys of cars, motorcycles and young people marching, waving CHADEMA flags filled the streets. A number of shops remained closed for some hours. Some business people operating shops in downtown Arusha expressed concern that violence might break out, as has been in the past.
However, for Mr Andrea Munishi, a machinga, the accusation was uncalled for. "No. We are not a rowdy lot. We used to clog streets because we had no place to trade. Today, we have Unga-Limited grounds and soon we will move to the Kilombero's vacant plot," he said.