2 January 2013

Tanzania: UNDP to Help Upgrade Voter Register

Zanzibar — AS President Ali Mohamed Shein prepares to appoint new commissioners of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC), UNDP has agreed to support efforts to upgrade the Permanent Voter Register (PVR).

The upgrading of the register had stalled for two consecutive years due to lack of funds, ZEC commissioners, who ended their five-year tenure, said when they met the First Vice-President, Mr Seif Sharif Hamad.

According to ZEC plans, upgrading of the voter register is supposed to take place every October, but since the Government of National Unity (GNU) took off after the 2010 general elections, the exercise has not taken place.

ZEC commissioners bade farewell to the top leaders of Zanzibar: Dr Shein, Hamad, and Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi (second vice-president), handing them each, a report about the work done by the commission in the past five years.

Mr Khatib Mwinyichande, the ZEC chairperson, said that despite challenges, the referendum on Government of National Unity (GNU), followed by the general elections in 2010 were some of the memorable successes of the commission formed in January 2008 by retired president, Amani Abeid Karume.

The six commissioners who have ended their term are Mr Khatib Mwinyichande (Chairperson), Mr Nassor Khamis, Mr Ayoub Bakari, Mr Said Bakar Jecha, Mr Abdulrahman Rashid, and Ms Mwanabaraka Ahmed.

The seventh commissioner was Judge Omar Makungu who resigned to serve in the mainland and his position has never been refilled. According to the law, Dr Shein is to announce the names of the seven new commissioners any day from when the five-year term ends.

Mr Hamad prays that the next ZEC commissioners should be "bold, honest, and transparent to win people's trust." Mr Hamad emphasized that ZEC is supposed to be independent and work in a transparent manner in order to minimize suspicions. "I wish ZEC would have its own account instead of applying for cash from the government whenever it needs money."

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