Judge John Tendwa, the Registrar of political parties, says the political situation within parties has a deadly effect on the democratic process as key decisions on members and leaders are prejudged before the meetings are held – an improper practice in a democratic context.
The registrar told The Guardian on Sunday in an interview that any political party has the right by virtue of its constitution, rules and regulations, legal and procedural meetings to take any action or make any decision against its member or leader of that party. But the trend of political parties in recent days has demonstrated that the intention of the party is known before the meeting is convened, which is a prejudged decision and thus is not sincere.
“A party cannot hold a meeting for a single agenda – just to expel members. The meeting should look at the political situation and problems facing the party and how to go about them in order to purify the polluted situation in polite way, without intimidation to the accused,” the registrar emphasized.
He wondered why parties were opting to address the media on matters which were to be discussed and decided upon in an official meeting.
“It was written all over before the meeting that ‘Hamad’s fate to be known today.” Sometimes it is sensationalized by media but the bottom line is that the key decisions are well known before. Kafulila’s case was on the same line everything was known beforehand; why intimidate somebody who one day can decide to get out of the party? After all involvement in a political party is voluntary,” he pointed out.
The registrar’s statement comes three days after Hamad Rashid Mohamed, the Wawi MP (CUF) and four other members were stripped of membership and automatically losing his seat in the House. The party’s governing council cited as divisive politcs.
A similar move was taken Ist December 2011 by another opposition party, NCCR – Mageuzi which expelled David Kafulila, MP for Kigoma South constituency. However Kafulila has challenged the party decision in the High court, which granted a temporary restraining order (injunction) against implementation until the main case is concluded.
Hamad also had secured a High court injunction on the party’s decision on the very day, pending the hearing of application inter-partes which is fixed for February 13.
Asked about whether it was necessary to have in place a national body for political arbitration, registrar Tendwa said it was impractical to have such a body because its activities would be limited to political parties’ conflicts and if it would be redundant if it happened that there are no conflicts at all. He also queried the financing of such a body.
Outspoken, judge Tendwa said that parties should have their internal mechanism to resolve conflicts smoothly. “Expelling members is outdated considering the fact that we are 20 years old in multiparty politics, but if the parties deem it necessary to have an arbitrator, let it be.”He admitted that he would like to see changes to the electoral system and associated laws so as to allow the MPs who lose their party membership to remain as legislators. Such a noble decision would be made considering the voters, regardless of party alignment ahead of political parties.
“Assume an MP is expelled by his party and then seeks intervention from a court of law then the court reinstates that MP what will be the relationship between MP and other party leaders?
Will this be regarded as party MP or court MP? Should the registrar continue to endorse the full amount of subsidy or less one legislator? These are key questions whose answers necessitate changes,” the registrar underlined.
On increasing popularity of opposition parties, leading to victories in key urban and some rural areas during the past general elections, the registrar said the situation was healthy as it illustrated that the ruling party had not done enough in its deemed traditional strongholds.
He however expressed his discontent on the political parties’ trend to stage political rallies and demonstrations delivering criticism on the government without alternative policies to safeguard public interest so as to attract more followers and eventual voters.
Tendwa cited as example the case of Japan where the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) ruled the Far East economic powerhouse for more than 50 years but due to laxity the Democratic Party (DP) managed to win the latest election as its alternative policies were accepted by the voters.
In the meantime three residents of Kigoma South constituency submitted on Friday a petition in the High Court requesting it to declare Article 71 (1) (f) of the Constitution unconstitutional, for conflicting with guaranteed rights of voters.
The said article stipulates an automatic disqualification for a sitting legislator once that legislator is dismissed by the political party that backed his candidacy.
The Kigoma South residents namely Juma Shabani Nzengula, Partick Rubilo and Fanuel Bihole - represented by Mpoki and Advocates - argue that the article violates other constitutional articles such as 20 (1) which gives citizens the freedom to associate and publicly give their views openly.
…. as Maalim asks Tendwa to defend law on political parties
Moshi Lusonzo reports that Civic United Front (CUF) secretary general, Seif Shariff Hamad has urged Judge John Tendwa, the Registrar of Political Parties, to desist from interfering in decisions made by the party, and instead observe the lawe and operational regulations of his office for the benefit of the public.
Addressing a rally at the Bakhressa open space at Manzese in the city yesterday, Maalim Seif who is also Zanzibar First Vice President, said he was surprised when seeing that Judge Tendwa, is not doing his proper job as he is tasked with defending the constitutions of all registered political parties.
He said the registrar had instead turn out to become a front line defender of Wawi MP Hamad Rashid Mohammed who has been expelled from membership by following all laid down regulations under the law governing political parties.
The meeting which was attended by thousands of CUF supporters was specifically organized to provide a forum to explain the decisions taken by the CUF Governing Council to expel four party members, including Hamad Rashid.
Maalim Seif emphasized that he was very respectful of Judge Tendwa on the basis of his inational responsibilities, but the step he took to defend Hamad Rashid was something that had astonished him.
After those decisions were made, the Registrar of Political Parties has lately taken public positions to defend Hamad Rashid. “I expected that he would support us, as we properly used our constitution,” the veteran opposition leader declared.
He said the intention of the Registrar in defending those expelled by the governing council is to see the party being led in a chaotic manner without following procedures, which he vowed would not happen.
He said at no time shall anyone be loved more than the party, demanding the Registrar and other people who came out to stand upfront to oppose decisions reached by the governing council to abandon those efforts. The CUF is not the property of any single person but an institution belonging to Tanzanians.
Explaining the decision to expel Hamad Rashid and his three colleagues, Maalim
Seif said that before the decisions were reached efforts were first made to hold two sittings to warn him on his tendency, but he showed no signs of changing.
He said one meeting was held in Zanzibar and another in Dar es Salaam and brought together leading party officials and stakeholders.
As it was clear that it was impossible for the four to change, the leadership to follow all procedures including calling those suspected of sabotaging the party to defend themselves and they did so.
He said the governing council made the decision by focusing on the rights of a member and not his parliamentary position, explaining that in the party, if a person is a leader and goes against its procedures he will have measures taken against him.
Along with that he said the CUF had followed all required procedures, including informing the Speaker of the National Assembly on the decision and if it will not be implemented that will not be the party’s concern.
“No one will be able to roll back this matter. We have told the Speaker that this person Hamad is not our member; if she wants to cover him that is up to her,” the secretary general affirmed.
He said there were ‘secret agenda’ pursued by some people who are opposed to the accords reached in Zanzibar and finally bringing the people of Zanzibar together, so they fabricate a conflict.