Avoid raising fever on Tanganyika Law Society elections

18Mar 2017
Ani Jozen
The Guardian
Avoid raising fever on Tanganyika Law Society elections

EMBATTLED Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Harrison Mwakyembe has another sleepless night or two on his sleeves as the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) holds its scheduled polls after a court ruling threw out a dilly dallying injunction application.

The minister will be on his toes as he has directed the society not to vote for its arguably charismatic member, advocate Tundu Lissu who is running for election along with t least three others, including ex-Home Affairs minister Lawrence Masha.

Lissu is attracting huge attention because even President John Magufuli has issued a warning to the lawyers that if they decide to place themselves under the wings of the leading law official for the opposition CHADEMA, there will be consequences in that move.

The president said he won’t be picking judges from the group from that moment onwards until they desist from a political vocation implicit in such election of top leadership, and thus only state attorneys will be qualifying for appointment as judges.

At the same time there is a risk that the government deletes formal law functions now entrusted to the society, for instance requiring each practicing advocate not employed by the state to be a member of TLS.

The regulation is helpful as the society implicitly watches over the conduct of its members, saving the government the trouble of having to set up a judicial commission to vet or oversee conduct of private advocates.

Owing to current political tensions where many in the legal profession feel that the constitution isn’t being observed and many pieces of legislation are being put aside as the government excessively uses police force powers and prerogatives for instance on assemblies and control of speeches by opposition politicians, the wish to have a strong leader at the helm in TLS can be understood.

But since TLS has a proto-governmental function as an auxiliary too the High Court in watching over the legal profession, giving itself a new mandate of defending the constitution by using the society might not work.

Existing avenues including political parties and non-governmental organizations suffice for the purpose, and at the same time, it is periodic elections which shall indicate how far people are happy with how the country is being run.

There is also a platform in the legislature itself where a private member’s motion on anything is possible, so long as it obtains sufficient support across the board to stand the rigorous tests in parliamentary committees for tabling before the House.

TLS ought to be calm about the polls and the government let them ponder the vocation of the society without undue impediments, arrests, etc.

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