A tough battle to the East African Legislative Assembly started officially here yesterday as the relatives of former prominent leaders fight to be elected to represent the country in the regional House on Tuesday.
The office of the clerk to the National Assembly yesterday released a list of 34 candidates expected to contest the seats and are to be elected by members of Parliament.
Only nine candidates must be elected from the list. The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi is expected to send eight members to the regional legislature while all opposition parties are expected to have only one seat.
The nominated women candidates are Angela Kizigha, Fancy Nkuhi, Dr Godbertha Sebastian Kinyondo, Janeth Mmari, Janeth Mbene, Maryam Ussi Yayha, Rose Daudi Mwalusamba (CUF), Sebtuu Mahammed Nassoro, Shy-Rose Bhanji and Sophia Rijaal.
The nominated CCM candidates from Zanzibar are Abdullah Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Dr Ahmada Hamad Khatib, Dr Haji Mwita Haji, Khamis Jabir Makame, Dr Said Gharib Billal and Zuberi Ali Maulid.
Nominated opposition candidates, with their political parties in brackets, are Antony Calist Komu (Chadema), Dr Fortunatus Lwanyantika Masha (UDP), Juju Martin Danda (NCCR-Mageuzi), Micah Elifuraha Mrindoko (TLP), Mwaiseje S Polisya (NCCR-Mageuzi), Nderakindo Perpetua Kessy (NCCR- Mageuzi) and Twaha Issa Taslima (CUF).
Other candidates from the Mainland are Adam Omar Kimbisa, Bernard Musomi Murunya, Charles Makongoro Nyerere, Dr Edmund Bernard Mndolwa, Elibariki Immanuel Kingu, Dr Evans Mujuni Rweikiza, John Dunstan Lifa-Chipaka (Tadea), Mrisho Mashaka Gambo, Siraju Juma Kaboyonga and William John Malecela.
A quick look at the list shows that some candidates were politicians who served as MPs in previous years or are close relatives of some former or current prominent politicians in the country.
Candidates vying for EALA seats have been spotted here in Dodoma, especially in the Parliamentary environs, campaigning by distributing leaflets and brochures detailing their curriculum vitae (CV).
A total of eight CCM candidates are expected to be voted for. This is according to Article 50 of the EAC Treaty which stipulates that the election of members to the EALA from each member state must be conducted based on the representation of political parties in the respective country’s national parliament, shades of opinion, interest groups and gender.
Tanzania’s National Assembly consists of 258 CCM legislators (about 74 percent), 48 Chadema legislators (about 14 percent), 36 CUF legislators (about 10 percent), four NCCR-Mageuzi MPs, a single TLP legislator and another UDP legislator- all comprising about 4 percent.
However, the envisaged election of members to EALA is likely to face petition after Chadema’s director of Information and Foreign Affairs John Mnyika yesterday addressed reporters to protest against the decision by the office of the clerk to the National Assembly to allocate a single seat for all opposition parties represented in Parliament.
In his argument Mnyika, who is Ubungo legislator, said since Article 50 of the EAC Treaty wants members to EALA from each member state to be elected based on party representation in the House, opposition parties in general should have been allocated two seats instead of one.
In this respect, he said, CCM should have been allocated seven seats, a single seat for Chadema and another for CUF.
Mnyika also protested that, according to Parliamentary Standing Orders, the nomination of candidates for the election should have been carried out on April 10, 2012 and not yesterday as the clerk did.
By releasing the list yesterday, he said, the candidates would have no time to campaign; also individuals wishing to file petitions against certain candidates would also have no enough time to do so.
Mnyika said he had written to the clerk asking him to postpone the election in order to resolve certain anomalies, saying otherwise the election would not be free and fair.
Apart from the former leaders’ relatives, there are also some prominent politicians in the ruling party who failed to win the National Assembly race in the 2010 election, but have found an opportunity to fulfill their political ambition through the East African Legislative Assembly.
While in other East African member states membership to EALA is about competency and deep understanding of the newly revived Community’s affairs, it seems for Tanzania it’s the same old story of nepotism, whereby retired leaders want their relatives to be elected.
There are also those who failed at the local government level when they served as mayors or ward councillors, but they are now gunning for promotion to the regional Parliament, thanks to the flawed system within the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi.
CCM has in the past been accused of influencing the election of people who had failed in elections, consoling them with EALA posts. Some critics have accused the party of using EALA as a jobs outlet rather than an institution through which its best brains, regardless of where they come from, serve the country’s wider interests.