Tanzania: Observe Elections Rules, Act, Chadema Warned

AS they mull to endorse one candidate, the office of the registrar of political parties has put Chadema and ACT-Wazalendo parties on notice, warning them to abide by the law or risk suspension.

The statement has come in a wake of the intention by the two opposition parties to cooperate in the ongoing campaigns ahead of the upcoming 2020 General Election, slated for October 28th, this year.

Chadema through its presidential candidate Mr Tundu Lissu has already declared that they support ACT-Wazalendo presidential flag bearer for Zanzibar Mr Seif Sharif Hamad, on grounds that he has a strong hold in the isles.

On their part, the ACT-Wazalendo through its national Chairman Mr Hamad on Monday, endorsed Mr Lissu as its Union presidential candidate, despite the fact that the party has already nominated Mr Bernard Membe as its presidential aspirant.

Equally, ACT-Wazalendo party leader Zitto Kabwe claimed that bold decisions are needed for opposition parties to win the election, promising that they would come up with a joint declaration on October 3rd this year, on which candidate they are supporting.

Speaking to the 'Daily News' yesterday, the Deputy Registrar of Political Parties Sisty Nyahoza said they have written a letter to the two parties demanding explanation following their move to campaign for candidates of other parties, which is contrary to the law.

"The letters that have been sent to Chadema and ACT- Wazalendo have to be responded on 25th and 28th September, this year respectively, failure to do so, they will be committing a criminal offence, which is punishable by the law," he said.

He went on to warn that, if the two political parties would carry on with their plans, then they would be punished by the registrar of political parties.

Among the punishments the registrar will enforce include imposing a fine of between 10m/- and 50m/-, suspending the party as well as suspending the candidate from taking part in the political activities.

"If the parties or candidates will be suspended, it means they won't be able to proceed with the election process including campaigns, there is no need of getting into that stage," he explained.

Speaking of the move by Tanzania Labour Party (TLP) to campaign for a CCM presidential candidate Dr John Magufuli, Mr Nyahoza said the office had written a letter to demand explanation on the matter from TLP.

"TLP was served with a letter from our office, and they responded. In their response, the party apologised for their move and they have already removed the image of CCM candidate in their banner," he said.

Commenting on the ongoing move, analysts believe that the party's plans to cooperate for the general election could be the results of requests from their supporters.

They are of the view that cooperation of political parties in the election enables them to secure enough votes and would even guarantee unpopular parties to win some representative seats.

Dr Richard Mbunda of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) said it was a wrong foot for opposition parties to fail coming up with an agreement of cooperation in line with the country's laws.

"In fact, the law itself on coalition matters is in favour of the opposition parties, as they're in a position to make good use of it so that they secure enough votes," he said.

The UDSM lecturer, however, stressed on the need for the political parties to abide by the election laws, regulations and code of ethics that all parties have signed before beginning the election process.

He said despite the fact the election is supervised by the National Electoral Commission (NEC), other players also have a role to play in ensuring the law is adhered throughout.

"The office of registrar of political parties has done what it is supposed to do, as it has the mandate of doing so," he told this paper in a telephone interview.

His views were echoed by Prof Gaudence Mpangala of the Ruaha Catholic University who said opposition parties should have come up with the idea of forming a coalition just three months before campaigns, as required by the law.

"But since they have decided to cooperate in between the process... maybe they have seen a loophole where their move can't be disturbed by the law," he said.

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