Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

24 December 2012

Tanzania: Drama, Humour As Lema Is Reinstated Arusha MP

In the appellate ruling, read by deputy court registrar Elizabeth Mkwizu, the judges said there is no clear indication that the CCM claimants were registered voters during the 2010 election, nor are there facts in evidence that prove Mr Lema's allegedly abusive language infringed on their right to vote.

Courts are famous for many things; it is the place where many win and lose cases. that the new Constitution was promulgated two years ago. So, last week, when the Arusha MP Godbless Lema was reinstated as MP,, plenty of comic strips and sideshows were present too.

First, the devil was unwanted here. "When others see devils, we see God," said Haruma Mussa, a Chadema supporter There was little trouble from the crowd until the real politicians started to arrive. Every time a politician stood, the crowd would clap, stand up, raise their hands or hurl bottles of water in the air. They seized this opportunity to surge forward too with banners some of which read,Chadema slogans.

The guards had a tough time when the MP and his supporters moved out of the courtroom. The burly guards formed a human fence around the three as they came in on an open vehicle. But they could not prevent the gathering from seizing this chance to come in to the dais.

The supporters were filled with joy as Lema was restored his status as MP There was jubilation as the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court decision that stripped the Chadema MP for Arusha Urban, Godbless Lema of his parliamentary seat. Justices Nathalia Kimaro, Salum Massati and Bernard Luanda ruled that the CCM petitioners who had taken legal action against Mr Lema had no grounds for challenging his status as an elected legislator.

The High Court verdict was an error in law, they said. During the 2010 parliamentary elections, the Chadema challenger won a landslide victory in a tough race against CCM incumbent and former cabinet minister Matilda Buriani, clinching 56,561 votes against his rival's 37,460. In April this year, however, the High Court in Arusha nullified his win following a petition from three CCM cadres, Mr Mussa Mkanga, Ms Happy Kivuyo and Ms Agnes Mollel; who successfully argued he had used abusive language against his opponent during campaigns.

In the appellate ruling, read by deputy court registrar Elizabeth Mkwizu, the judges said there is no clear indication that the CCM claimants were registered voters during the 2010 election, nor are there facts in evidence that prove MrLema's allegedly abusive language infringed on their right to vote.

During deliberations, attorneys for the Chadema legislator argued the CCM petitioners were disqualified voters under section 111 (1) of the Elections Act, thus they had no grounds for pursuing an elections reversal on behalf of Dr Buriani. Hundreds of Chadema supporters, including scores who arrived in Dar es Salaam from Arusha, poured into the streets of the city centre in celebration, temporarily disrupting traffic as they headed to the party's Kinondoni headquarters.

The Court of Appeal's decision can be seen either as the trigger of round two of a showdown between the opposition and the ruling CCM in the town or a sign of the growing independence of the judiciary. At a time when all signs point to a struggle between the two parties in readiness for next year's civic elections, pundits argue that Lema's victory not only acts as a catalyst in the face-off but has also helped restore confidence in the judiciary.

There was song and dance in Dar es Salaam yesterday after the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court decision that stripped Lema of the parliamentary seat he won in October 2010. Justices Nathalia Kimaro, Salum Massati and Bernard Luanda said the CCM petitioners who challenged Mr Lema's election had no grounds to do so and the High Court verdict was an error in law.

In the 2010 parliamentary elections, the Chadema challenger won a landslide victory in a tough race against CCM incumbent and former cabinet minister Batilda Buriani, clinching 56,561 votes against his rival's 37,460. In April this year, however, the High Court in Arusha nullified his election following a petition from three CCM cadres--Mr Mussa Mkanga, Ms Happy Kivuyo and Ms Agnes Mollel--who argued that he had used abusive language during the campaigns.

Deputy Registrar of the Court Elizabeth Mkwizu, who read yesterday's decision, said there was no evidence that the CCM claimants were registered and eligible voters during the 2010 election. There was also no evidence to prove that Mr Lema's so-called abusive language infringed on their right to vote. Attorneys for the Chadema legislator argued that the petitioners were disqualified voters under the Election Act and had no grounds to pursue an election reversal on behalf of Dr Buriani.

Hundreds of Chadema supporters, including scores who arrived in Dar es Salaam from Arusha, poured into the streets of the city centre in celebration, temporarily disrupting traffic as they headed to the party's Kinondoni headquarters. Mr Lema's triumph is a setback to CCM's efforts to re-organise itself and counter Chadema's growing popularity in the northern tourist city and surrounding regions, which are increasingly shaping up as a Chadema stronghold.

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