BY KARL LYIMO, 18th December 2011 @ 15:00, Total Comments: 1, Hits: 1526
RECENTLY, Wilson Mukama, the general secretary of the political Party of the Revolution ‘Chama cha Mapinduzi’ (CcM), came out with the statement that the veteran ruling party is considering proposing that Tanzania should adopt the concept of Proportional Representation (PR) as part of the country's efforts at good governance. [HabariLeo, November 29, 2011].
Generally speaking, proportional representation is an electoral system designed to represent in a legislative body each political party or other grouping/independent candidates in proportion to their actual voting strength within the electorate concerned.
There are different kinds of the system. In one of its forms, proportional representation sees to it that the electors ‘vote’ by numbering the candidates aspiring for the available post in their order of preference. In the event, any votes received by a candidate in excess of those needed to be ‘voted’ into Office are transferred to other candidates.
The different types of the system notwithstanding, however, the basic principles underlying proportional representation elections remain the same. These are that all voters deserve representation; and that all political groups in society deserve to be represented in their legislatures in proportion to their strength in the electorate.
In other words, everyone should have the right to fair representation no matter what!
If nothing else, this mode of voting helps to secure representation of minority groups in proportion to their inherent strength on the ground. It also helps to save time, energy, funds, patience and other resources by making by-elections down the political road redundant and, therefore, unnecessary.
Government by Democracy provides a fundamental way in which the people at large control their Government. This is usually done through a combination of methods that entail universal suffrage, rule by the majority, and the right/duty to oppose the Government of the Day!
‘Universal suffrage,’ of course, means that — with a few specific, statutorily-backed exceptions — citizens are enabled to elect their own representatives… And, the right to oppose and criticize Government as a duty is vital to bona fide Democracy. Ideally, this must be unequivocally recognised in the Constitution, and respected by the Government of the Day as a matter of course.
It is in the light of the foregoing, then, that we should view the CcM intimation at Proportional Representation not with a jaundiced eye, but with renewed hope. This is especially predicated upon the fact that those among us who really matter in the nation’s daily life are correctly seeing the light on the road to a richer democracy.
In this, they must be encouraged — pushed, if necessary — to pursue that noble path to its logical conclusion… In other words, every stone must not be left unturned; every opportunity must be taken, to ensure that the Proportional Representation concept is firmly entrenched in the Constitution-making processes that are already ongoing in Tanzania.
The prime goal should be to ensure that the system becomes operational in the next general elections which will be conducted at the Local Government level in October 2014, as well as the Presidential, Parliamentary and Council elections which are tentatively slated for October 2015.
Doing this is bound to save Tanzania and Tanzanians from the hassle and ghastly ‘costs’ which have become routinely associated with by-elections in Tanzania. Regrettably, this has been the case especially following resumption of the multi-party political system via legislation in 1992, and the first multi-party general elections in 1995, after a little more than a generation of single party politics and elections.
Important here, it must be stressed, is that the idea as broached by the ruling party must not be allowed to wither and peter away. It must be carried up and forward with the enthusiasm it deserves.
Equally important is also the need for the relevant authorities — not least of them the ruling party and its respective Governments, as well as other stakeholders in the nation's welfare — to carefully choose the variety of proportional representation Tanzania needs.
Reportedly, more that 80 per cent of the scores of the countries using proportional representation at the national level — ranging from Albania and Angola to Uruguay, Wallis-&-Futuna, and including South Africa — practise the Party List voting type of proportional representation, with minor variations here and there.
Perhaps we should start by considering this, whereby voters indicate on the ballot paper their preference for a particular political party (or independent candidate). These are then allocated seats in proportion to their share of the vote...
In any case, let's give proportional representation a chance. That is the least it deserves from lovers of bona fide Democracy.
Total Comments on the above stories (1)
Yes sir, but Proportional Representation should also be in all sectors including job opportunities and higher education. You only have to go to government sectors and see the ratio of employees in the white-color jobs, and you will be surpprised at the difference. Also go to Dodoma and Dar Es Salaam Universities, and see the representation there.
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