Fiery Chadema cadre Godbless Lema, whose 2010 election as Arusha Urban Member of Parliament the High Court nullified yesterday, has said he has no plans to appeal the ruling.
In remarks moments after the court ruling, he declared: “I have no plans to appeal this judgment. My only plea to Arusha residents and Chadema supporters is that this ruling should not scare or demoralise them.”
“This is just a beginning of our fight against injustice…to me it is just a challenge. People shouldn’t worry,” he noted, exuding confidence, adding that he knew what would befall him a day before the ruling was delivered.
Chadema national Chairman Freeman Mbowe meanwhile described the ruling as “unfair and meant to suit the interests of rulers”, suggesting that it leaked three days before it was actually delivered.
“We know we have the right to appeal, but we haven’t decided whether to do so as we’re still communicating with our lawyers,” he said.
Chadema Secretary General Dr Wilbroad Slaa differed slightly, saying the opposition party had two options – to appeal or to line itself up for a by-election.
“We still need to weigh these options, as even if we appeal the case will likely take much longer than if we choose to go for a by-election,” he said, adding that Chadema would triumph “no matter what”.
The High court nullified the election results after satisfying itself that Lema had used abusive language and engaged in mudslinging against CCM candidate Dr Batilda Burian at campaign rallies.
Judge Gabriel Rwakibarila of the Sumbawanga High Court Zone, who was presiding over the case, said the petitioners had proved their case and hence the nullification of the election results.
He said the court was satisfied with the evidence by the petitioners that at one of Lema’s campaign rallies held between August 20 and October 30, 2010, the respondent used abusive language against his opponent – which contravened election laws, rules and regulations.
He added that the court was also satisfied that Lema used gender-based discriminatory arguments against Dr Burian purposely to win the constituency election.
The judge quoted some of the statements Lema is said to have made as including: “At what time a woman become a leader of Maasai elders?”
He said that claims and evidence issued satisfied the court that Lema breached section 108 of National Election Act of 1985, which prohibits the conducting of campaigns on the basis of tribe, gender, religious or colour.
“In regard to the evidence shown before this court, I am satisfied that the election cannot be said to have been free and fair. This election is, therefore, nullified and leave to appeal is granted,” he declared.
Meanwhile, the Directorate of Presidential Communications has dismissed as naïve, laughable and unfortunate Lema’s suggestions that President Jakaya Kikwete and the State House dictated or influenced the High Court ruling.
It said in a statement to the media that President Kikwete has never interfered in any way with the course of justice and had no intention of doing so in the future.
“It’s not part of the President’s mandate to influence or otherwise interfere with the administration of justice in respect of cases pending in any court of law. He doesn’t have such powers,” said the statement.
“Lema’s remarks, made in a television interview, smack of lack of respect for the Judiciary, which is an independent pillar of the state and whose operations and decisions are not interfered with by the Executive or any other pillar,” added the statement.
It urged the ejected MP to appreciate the importance of the principle of separation of state powers and functions, and called on the people to ignore his remarks.