17 January 2013

Tanzania: Rukwa Electoral Case in New Twist

IN a new twist, the Attorney General (AG) has intervened in the legal wrangle involving nullification of elections results for Sumbawanga Urban Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Aeshi Hilaly, by filing an appeal to challenge the decision of the High Court.

The AG lodged the appeal before the Court of Appeal on January 10, this year, under certificate of urgency, stating that the Constituency has no parliamentary representation since the nullification of the results on April 30, 2012. Before being unseated, Mr Hilaly was MP for the constituency under CCM.

"Unless the appeal is determined, the residents of Sumbawanga Urban Constituency will remain unrepresented," reads part of records of appeal. In the appeal, the AG is asking judges to quash and set aside the judgment and decree given by High Court Judge Batuel Mmila.

"Further the Court (of Appeal) be pleased to declare the election of Sumbawanga Urban Constituency held on October 31, 2010 was free and fair and that election results thereof were lawful and valid," the AG, who is the government's legal adviser, also proposed.

According to court records, the AG has advanced 10 grounds to support his case, stating that the High Court judge erred in law in fixing the hearing date of the election petition prior to deposition of security of costs by the petitioner, Nobert Yamsebo, from Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema).

He stated that the trial judge erred in law and facts in holding that the contradictions and discrepancies between the evidence given by four witnesses for the petitioner were minor and did not go to the root of justice.

The AG stated that the trial judge erred in holding that there was chaos at the campaign meetings by Mr Yamsebo at two villages on two different occasions and basing on such contradictory evidence the judge was wrong to hold that disturbances at the rallies weakened and undermined the petitioner's campaign.

"Having held that there were contradictions and discrepancies in evidence on whether the campaign meetings proceeded after the alleged disturbance, the judge erred in law and facts in holding that the election was not free and fair," records of appeal explain.

The judge, the AG stated, erred in holding that the alleged riots at the two meetings affected the results and "crossly misdirected himself in failing to evaluate the evidence adduced to the required standard of proof which is beyond reasonable doubt, as a result arrived at wrong conclusion, finding and decision."

Furthermore, the AG explained that the High Court judge erred in shifting the onus of proof from Mr Yamsebo to Mr Hilaly on allegation of corruption given on October 29, 2010 at one primary school in the constituency and wrongly concluded that such claims were proved beyond reasonable doubts.

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