NEC consulting widely ahead of civic polls, general elections

18Jul 2019
James Lanka
The Guardian
NEC consulting widely ahead of civic polls, general elections

AS countrywide updating of the permanent roll of voters starts today ahead of civic polls later this year, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has said it has consulted widely with stakeholders and is ready to deliver the poll.

NEC Chairman Judge (Rtd) Semistocles Kaijage.

Speaking here yesterday, NEC Chairman Judge (Rtd) Semistocles Kaijage said consultations have already taken place involving key stakeholders such as leaders of political parties, women, youth groups, people with disabilities and civil societies.

He was briefing reporters on the launch of countrywide update of permanent roll of voters to be officiated by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa here today.

“All registered political parties are legally allowed to send their agents—one from each political party—to registration stations to observe the exercise,” he said.

Judge Kaijage noted that after the launch at national level, the exercise will take place in Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions for seven days before proceeding elsewhere.

The exercise will involve registration of new voters as well as updating of voters’ personal information for those who have shifted areas of residence and other related changes.

“We have put in place a total of 37,407 voter registration stations in Tanzania Mainland and 407 in Zanzibar,” he stated.

Judge Kaijage reminded Tanzanians on the importance of registering themselves as voters, as those missing in the roll will not be able the cast the ballot in the civic polls slated for October 2019.

Although managed by the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments), the same register and card issued by NEC are used.

He appealed to residents of Kilimanjaro and Arusha regions to turn up in big numbers to give the exercise a good start before proceeding to other regions.

Although the electioneering process has begun, the opposition and activists have been demanding electoral reforms ahead of local elections in October, and general elections next year.

Two months ago, opposition parties including CCK, NLD, NCCR Mageuzi, Chadema and ACT-Wazalendo formed a coalition calling for the creation of an “independent” electoral commission.

Among the bones of contention with the opposition is the fact that the NEC chairman and other commissioners are appointed by the president.

Another is that electoral laws give municipal, town and district executive directors (DEDs) powers to supervise elections for NEC.

In a ruling, the High Court said sections 7 (1) and 7 (3) which empower DEDs to supervise and coordinate registration of voters for presidential, parliamentary and council elections were contrary to the constitution.

Lady Judge Atuganile Ngala said the provisions contradict section 74 (14) of the constitution for not setting limitations to ensure the independence and accountability of DEDs who double as returning officers during polls. The government appealed the ruling.

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