Many barred candidates can impact on electoral enthusiasm

14Sep 2020
Editor
The Guardian
Many barred candidates can impact on electoral enthusiasm

​​​​​​​ELECTION campaigns are blurred in a wide range of constituencies on account of a cloud hanging over the likely number of participants in the poll. Many opposition candidates have yet to be cleared after the National Electoral Commission (NEC) raised queries on details in how the-

-forms were filled. A few dozen such candidates have been cleared but close to 100 had been touched in the first place, in relation to parliamentary candidates alone.  That is still a problem.

While the thrust of NEC scrutiny of the forms appears to be veracity of information in relation to how those individuals relate to their parties, and their other records touching on law and order issues, electoral politics are slightly different. Ordinarily people aren’t elected to the legislature because of the party they represent but due to how they are viewed at grassroots level, in which case barring a candidate can impact on electoral enthusiasm. At a number of instances in the past, CCM rejected aspirants who won the primaries and they were elected upon switching to the opposition, and even making solid contributions there, like ex-Karatu MP Dr Wilibrod Slaa.

In that case, another look needs to be thrown at the issue so that more and indeed most of the still non-cleared candidates who have already been approved by their parties are cleared and get time to campaign. We still have nearly 50 days to polling day and for constituency needs that is plenty of time. So the fact that NEC hasn’t completed the job within the time frame of starting the campaigns or a week later isn’t a big problem but it ought to be hurried up to uplift poll interest.

This isn’t something that is easy for various levels of authority to grasp, for they are chiefly looking forward to a landslide CCM victory, which is evidently on the cards, but gaps of enthusiasm and electoral interest aren’t of much use. It is vital that NEC .should look at the forms not as if it is picking CCM candidates but individuals from broad sections of the population, from political parties which could have done differently with more resources, etc. The issue is that the forms need not be perfect, so long as those individuals face no criminal charges or anything else that is expressly disallowed in law, not marginal misdemeanors, etc.

Memories aren’t too far off of the days where disputes in parliamentary elections more or less crippled local government functions, where CCM wins the mayoral seat and it has no majority among the councillors. That may not come up this time but other problems can crop up, if there are too many disgruntled candidates and their supporters in various districts, that is, wards and constituencies. When most of the disqualified candidates are cleared the voters will understand the case for those remaining, as they often know those individuals at the grassroots level as well.

At the same time, it is possible that efforts to ensure that there is cohesion in local governments so that development projects are smoothly executed can lead to contrasting assessments of what ideal picture is needed in the forthcoming poll. It may well have worked in the aftermath of civic polls late last year but they weren’t psychologically important as the current polls. That counts.

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