Tanzania: Opposition Decries Unfair Elimination of Candidates

(file photo).

Dar es Salaam — Opposition party candidates in 144 parliamentary constituencies yesterday appealed to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) as they challenged their elimination from the electoral process. This comes after election campaign kicked off on Friday ahead of October 28 polls.

The candidates come from Chadema, ACT-Wazalendo, NCCR-Mageuzi and CUF who will have to wait until next Thursday, September 10, when NEC will make final decisions.

According to information gathered by The Citizen, the four political parties say 45 ACT-Wazalendo aspirants have been barred from the process; 22 immediately after returning nomination forms, while 23 others had their endorsement revoked.

Chadema's presidential candidate Tundu Lissu told a rally on Friday at the Mbagala Zakhem grounds that 53 party contestants for parliamentary seats in Mainland Tanzania had been arbitrarily eliminated from the race.

But, NEC director of Elections, Dr Wilson Charles, assured The Citizen that the electoral body would work on appeals and resolve the stalemate before Thursday's deadline.

"Those confirmed to have been eliminated contrary to procedures will be reinstated," he said.

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However, ACT-Wazalendo parliamentary seat candidate for Tunduru North Ado Shaibu and Chadema's candidate in Ubungo Constituency Boniface Jacob were their endorsement revoked by returning officers from respective constituencies.

While Mr Shaibu couldn't be reached to unveil his fate, Mr Jacob said he was processing his appeal to the electoral body.

The trend forced Chadema to instruct its countrywide candidates to hold demonstrations before their rallies to pile pressure on the electoral body to reinstate the opposition's eliminated candidates.

According to ACT-Wazalendo's campaigns and elections secretary Mohamed Misaga, the eliminated candidates from his party have all filed appeals before NEC.

"They have been assisted by party lawyers to appeal. Hopefully, NEC will ensure justice takes its course for elections to be peaceful," he said.

Section 44 of the National Elections Act Cap 343 gives returning officers the powers to revoke endorsement of a candidate after providing them with official letters after legal objection time has been completed.

However, Section 40 (6) of the law allows candidates to appeal to the electoral body challenging decisions of returning officers over lodged objections.

ACT-Wazalendo youth wing

Party's youth wing chairman Abdul Nondo yesterday called on the youngsters from opposition parties to stand in solidarity to protect the interests in the matter.

"It doesn't make sense that only ACT-Wazalendo and Chadema candidates are eliminated while those from CCM are left to win elections without opposition," he said.

He warned that electoral violence occurs due to injustice, inequality and lack of integrity during the process.

Clarifying his statement, Mr Nondo said NEC still had the opportunity to make this year's elections credible, peaceful, free and fair.

ACT-Wazalendo's in Zanzibar

On Friday, ACT-Wazalendo presidential candidate for Zanzibar Seif Sharif Hamad said objections had been filed to its candidates in all 16 constituencies in Pemba.

Through letters, Demokrasia Makini candidate in Mkoani Constituency Said Moh'd Juma wrote to returning officer refuting to have filed objections against ACT-Wazalendo's hopeful Khamis M. Khamis.

In the letters seen by The Citizen, the Africa Democratic Alliance (Ada-Tadea) candidate in Chambani Constituency Khamis Mohamed Omar also denied having any doubts with ACT-Wazalendo's candidate Yusuph Slim Hussein.

Following a series of incidents, Mr Hamad called upon ACT-Wazalendo members, supporters and justice advocates in the Mainland and Zanzibar to get prepared for protection of interests of citizens.

Commentators

Dr Richard Mbunda of the University of Dar es Salaam (Udsm) said the on-going trend was a result of lack of the national political consensus and lack of integrity among election supervisors.

"A returning officer in Rombo Constituency carried verifications for three consecutive days before declaring that there were no complaints. Where do others fail?" he questioned.

He said as a result, it was the president who was blamed, but actually it could be because of NEC officials' individual negligence.

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