Three political parties participating in tomorrow’s Igunga by-election have expressed confidence that they will perform well despite failure to update the voters’ register.
CCM, Chadema and CUF were reacting to the report on the progress of Igunga by-election released on Tuesday by Tanzania Civil Society Consortium on election Observation.
According to the report many eligible voters in Igunga constituency will not take part in Sunday’s by-election because the National Electoral Commission has not updated the permanent voter’s register.
Igunga residents are set to elect their MP on Sunday following the resignation of their former legislator, Rostam Aziz.
CUF Deputy Secretary General Julius Mtatiro told The Guardian in a telephone interview that although the register has not been updated, his party was well organised to win the by-election.
“The issue of updating voters’ register is not new. It is something which we have been talking about for so long,” Mtatiro said.
He added: We are aware of many shortcomings in the register and that the ruling party CCM can use it to forge election results,”
He said the register will only be useful if it is managed by voters and that can be possible through the writing of a new constitution.
For his part Chadema Deputy Secretary General Kabwe Zitto said that there was a need to amend the laws to reduce the number of years for updating the register in future.
Zitto said that they are aware that it was expensive to update the register thus it is not something that can be implemented whenever there is an election.
“Political parties have not complained because they understand that the exercise is expensive … but there is need to reduce the number of years for updating the register in future.
He said his party is well prepared for the polls even though the register has not been updated.
For his part, CCM campaign coordinator, Mwigulu Nchemba dismissed the argument of updating the voter register as irrelevant, declaring that the ruling party would win Igunga-by elections “even with the present number of voters registered before 2010 general elections.”
He said the claim that eligible voters would be denied their rights to vote because the register has not been updated does not hold water, explaining: “The register was updated just before last year’s General Election, and since then, there has been no significant change in the population size of Igunga constituency…so, it isn’t true that many people would be denied voting chance.”
Nchemba dismissed allegations leveled against the ruling party by the opposition, particularly Chadema, saying they were false. He accused Chadema of ‘importing’ voters from other parts of the country into Igunga, ahead of the poll day.
According to Nchemba, the number of Igunga’s registered voters stands at 171, 000, which he said was enough for CCM to emerge victorious in the forthcoming Igunga’s elections.
The TACCEO election affairs coordinator Merick Luvinga said on Tuesday that the election law is not clear on when the voter register should updated, only saying: “When it is necessary.”
He said according to the National Electoral Commission the register is updated after every two years.
Luvinga said they contacted the Igunga returning officer, Martha Bayo, who told them that last year’s records will be used during the bye-election because the government did not have funds to update the register.
Contacted for comments on the updating of the voters register, NEC Director for Elections Rajab Kiravu said the voter register cannot be updated in every election.
According to the laws of the land, the register is supposed to be updated after every two years.