Tanzania: Opposition Goes to African Court Over 'Defective' Polls

(file photo).

Dar es Salaam — ACT-Wazalendo led by its national chairman Seif Sharif Hamad and secretary general Ado Shaibu have sued the government at the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights for alleged for electoral misconduct.

They are challenging the government for frustrating Mr Hamad and the party in the just concluded election that saw Dr Magufuli and Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi declared winners for the union and Zanzibar presidency by over 84 and 76 percent respectively.

The applicants are represented by a Nigerian human rights lawyer and former Chairman of the Governing Council of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Prof Chid Odinkalu and will be supported by another seasoned lawyer and human rights defender from Senegal, Ibrahima Kane.

Party's secretary general Ado Shaibu is named as the second applicant, while Mr Ezekiah Dibogo Wenje, a Rorya Constituency parliamentary candidate, in Mara Region is the applicant while the Kwahani Constituency House of Representative contestant in Zanzibar, Omar Mussa Makame is the 4th applicant who are joined with other registered voters.

Yesterday, the ACT-Wazalendo head of Legal Affairs Omar Said Shaaban told this paper that the submission and registration was done on November 20, one day before effective Tanzania's withdrawal date from the court.

"The court has served us with an acknowledgement letter which wouldn't have been the case if the documents were submitted contrary to the required timeframe. Therefore, this is expected to be the last Tanzania case at the court," he said over the phone.

However, he said the court ruling will make a significant contribution in pushing forward various agenda of change that have to be supported by continental and international stakeholders.

The Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) president, Dr Rugemeleza Nshala said the case's judgement especially upon emerging victorious will give justifications to claims raised on this year's elections.

"Whether the government will respect the decisions of the court then that is another thing. We are supposed to respect regional court decisions especially those hosted in the country," he said.

"Netherlands does everything it can to ensure the International Crime Court (ICC) remains in their country in order to protect benefits associated with the presence of the court."

The applicants argued that both the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC), that organised and supervised the conduct of the elections in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar, were compromised.

They said: "That preceding, during and immediately after the elections, the respondent through its agents namely NEC, ZEC, the Tanzania Police Force, Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service, Tanzania Peoples Defence Force and Tanzania Communications and Regulatory Authority, the Ministry of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation, the Zanzibar Broadcasting Corporation, the Ministry for Regional Administration and Local Government, the Ministry for Regional Administration, Local Government and Special Forces engaged in multiple acts that violated the rights of the applicants to participate in the elections as citizens of the Respondent."

They alleged institutions above to have worked for CCM, to the detriment of other political parties, the applicants were molested while their agents were denied access to polling stations and that security agencies refused to investigate reported allegations.

"That with respect to the Tanzania Police Force, Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service, Tanzania Peoples Defence Force, the following violations took place;

a. Blatant and egregious discrimination against the Applicants and their respective political parties, and in favour of the incumbent CCM party, its candidates and its officials; Violence and torture against citizens, voters and candidates including and specifically women candidates in the presidential, parliamentary and local government elections, before, during and after the Voting Day and announcement of results," according to them.

The applicants also said elections were marred with unlawful and arbitrary intimidation, threats, arrest and detention of citizens; of supporters and the applicants as well as unlawful and excessive use of force leading to injury and death of numerous voters.

They said the process had arbitrary and unlawful denial of the right to peaceful protest to the applicants; malicious prosecution of citizens; supporters of the applicants and of the Applicants themselves.

"The Tanzania Police Force; knowingly and

intentionally created an environment that was unsafe for the exercise of the right to vote and participation," reads the application.

They said since no court in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar has powers to inquire declared election results; the applicants are asking the African Court to declare that Tanzania violated several Articles of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, Article 25(a)-(c) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). The court should direct Tanzania to investigate and bring to account all persons found to be responsible for the violations of the rights of their rights.

Louis [email protected]

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