13 February 2013

Tanzania: Court Postpones Sumbawanga MP's Appeal

LEGAL technicalities marred the hearing of appeal case seeking to challenge the nullification of results for Sumbawanga Urban Constituency Member of Parliament (MP) Aeshi Hilaly, who won the seat under Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in the 2010 general elections.

Justices of the Court of Appeal, Edward Rutakangwa, William Mandia and Ibrahim Juma, were ready to proceed with the hearing, but later decided to adjourn the matter to another session, following a request by advocate Victor Mkumbe for the respondent in the appeal, Nobert Yamsebo of Chadema.

It all started when Mr Mkumbe rose up when the appeal case was called for hearing and started beseeching the judges to hear first his application, for which he wanted to point out some legal defects in records of the appeal. But the judges declined his request because the application in question was itself not part of the records.

They said it had not been lodged and that the grounds sought to be argued were pure points of law, which could have been brought by way of a 'preliminary objection.' Thereafter, Mr Mkumbe switched to another reason, submitting that he was not prepared to proceed with the hearing because he had not presented submissions on the appeal and that the appellants (Mr Hilaly and Attorney General) served him a new list of authorities for citation while in court.

Counsel for the appellants, Principal State Attorney Michael Lwena and Advocate Richard Rweyongeza, could not vigorously object to the request for postponement of the hearing, because the filing schedule of the submissions was provided for under the Court of Appeal Rules.

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