Tanzania: Govt for Deds Role in Elections

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Judge's gavel.

HIGH Court's verdict that prohibits city, municipal and district executive directors from serving as returning officers in different elections will not be executed.

Attorney General (AG) Professor Adelardus Kilagi told reporters in Dar es Salaam on Monday that the government, through the Solicitor General (SG), has already lodged a notice of appeal to the Court of Appeal, disputing part of the High Court ruling.

"We have lodged the notice of appeal today (yesterday)... the government has also requested to be supplied with the ruling copy and typed proceedings," said the AG, franked by SG Dr Clemance Mashamba, Deputy SG Dr Ally Possi and Director of National Electoral Commission (NEC) Dr Athumani Kihamia, among other government executives.

The AG was giving the government's position over the ruling by the High Court panel that comprised Justices Atuganile Ngwala, Benhajj Masoud and Firmin Matogogoro on May 10, 2019 in a constitutional petition presented by Bob Wangwe.

Detailing the effects of the verdict on the forthcoming elections, he said under section 14 (3) of the Basic Rights and Duties and Enforcement Act, when the AG files a notice of appeal, such notice serves as a stay of execution against the decision being appealed against to the Court of Appeal.

"This is the High Court ruling and there is the right of appeal. Once the government, through the Solicitor General, has lodged the notice of appeal, such notice prevents execution of the judgment.

This judgment therefore will not be executed," said Professor Kilagi. According to the AG, all other issues will be stayed, pending determination of the appeal before the Court of Appeal.

Article 30 (5) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania also gives detail what could be done under the circumstances.

"If there are any by elections or any expected elections at the end of the year and thereafter maybe at any period, on the basis of the laws, they will continue as scheduled without any problem," Professor Kilagi insisted.

Giving a brief backgrounds of the petition, Professor Kilagi explained that Mr Wangwe had moved the High Court to declare unconstitutional a number of provisions under the National Election Act, 2010, in particular Section 6 (1), section 7 (1) (2) and (3).

However, he said, the government, through the SG, had strongly objected to the petition for lack of merits. The AG pointed out that the cited provisions were in line with the constitution as there were legal procedures that the returning officers adhered to while overseeing elections.

Delivering the judgment, the High Court judges confirmed the constitutionality of section 6 (1) of the Act that recognised NEC director, a presidential appointee, to continue supervising the elections.

Professor Kilagi further explained that the High Court also endorsed the constitutionality of section 7 (2) of the Act, which grants NEC the authority to appoint returning officers from among public servants.

However, the court nullified sections 7 (1) and (3) of the Act, which required city, municipal, towns and district directors and other appointees of the electoral commission from public servants to supervise elections.

The sections, according to the verdict, infringe Article 7 4 (14) of Constitution that prohibits election handlers to join political parties.

Professor Kilagi explained that prohibition of election supervisors from political parties is the only decision that the government will dispute at the Court of Appeal. The AG said Article 7 4 (14) was clear with no ambiguities as opposed to sections 7 (1) and (3) of the National Election Act.

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