Tanzania: Regional Court Dismisses Case Against Tanzania's New Parties' Law

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) has declined to halt enforcement of disputed provisions of the Tanzania Political Parties (Amendment) Act, 2019, as petitioned by leaders of opposition parties.

Five opposition party leaders wanted the regional court to stop the Tanzania government from implementing disputed provisions of the Act, pending determination on their compliance with the East African Community Treaty.

Judge Audace Ngiyo of the First Division of the regional court said that while EACJ agreed with the opposition leaders that their temporary application depicted substance and reality, the leaders would not suffer irreparable injury since "Wrongful arrest, detention and prosecution do not fall within the category of injury that cannot be compensated by damages, they can be compensated."

The court agrees with counsel representing the Tanzanian government that halting the Act would hold back civic education for political parties.

Principal state attorney Alice Mbuya argued before the court that the impugned Act specifically addresses the regulation of civic education and political parties' funds to avert unacceptable ideologies such as radical and extremist hate teachings.

The court, though, directed that a date for the hearing of the main application be fixed, Jebra Kambole, counsel for the opposition said they would file an appeal.

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"We are not pleased with the decision. Democracy will be in trouble, given the General Election is only four months away," Mr Kambole says.

The opposition leaders in their temporary Application No 3 of 2019 seeking the regional court's orders to stop enforcing provisions of the Act pending decision of their main Application No 2 of 2019.

In the main Application, the opposition leaders maintain that the Act violates human rights contrary to the Tanzania Constitution, the EAC Treaty, Leadership Ethics, the Universal Human Rights Declaration and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights.

The leaders who sued are Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) national chairman Freeman Mbowe, party leader of the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT)-Wazalendo Zitto Kabwe, Chama cha Ukombozi wa Umma (Chauma) national chairman Hashim Rungwe, Former Zanzibar government vice president and ACT-Wazalendo member Seif Sharif Hamad and Zanzibar deputy secretary general for Chadema Salum Mwalimu.

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