FOR one to qualify to vote, he or she should register in the permanent voters’ registry, and according to the laws, it is necessary that political parties are represented in the registration process, the current laws have not given room to have polling stations in embassies or prisons.
NEC Director Mr Ramadhani Kailima says that in the voting process, political parties have their representatives as well, and the current laws have not put in place such logistics for members of diaspora and inmates, because the Constitution has not recognized the right of Tanzanians in diaspora or inmates to vote.
Does the commission have influence in these matters? Mr Kailima says that the commission does not have any influence, but advised that those who thinks that it is necessary they can channel the matter through organs that are responsible with law formulation such as the office of the Attorney General or the National Assembly.
He reiterated that the commission was more than ready to implement any changes that maybe effected. Commenting over whether poor technology was a reason why Tanzania is yet to embrace changes to engage diaspora in the voting process; Mr Kailima responded saying :“Not real.
The IEBC do not have the most sophisticated technology, there were over 40,000 polling stations in the just ended elections in Kenya but 11,000 were not in the electronic system, they were using a registry, we have over 65,000 polling stations, in Zanzibar there are 1,504, the rest are in the Tanzania mainland, we are using our permanent voters’ registry.
Compared to Kenya, we are more open to our voters and stakeholders in general, every one month before elections, we handover a copy of registry to each political party. I am not sure if this is the case in Kenya.
The book is printed and political parties give copies to their representatives in polling stations from where they will be used to verify the list of voters against the one that is available in a polling station”.
He added that, NEC’s systems were more comprehensive and transparent and largely it reduces the possibilities of fracas related to suspected cheat in the number of voters.
“We have technology too, we are very good in that area as the Commission, and if one is to compare our efficiency and speedy in announcing results we are better. In announcing results there are provisional results and partial results, the latter is more credible than the former, whereas we announce partial results, IECB announces provisional results without necessarily checking against Form 34a in the polling station, 34b in the constituency, which carries authentic, verified and official results,” he said.
He added, “Here in Tanzania, we announce partial results carried in Form number 24a, from the constituency which have been verified by the argents of all the candidates and returning officers bring the results to us, when it reaches us we don’t change anything, all we do is to show the Forms this is what was lacking in Kenya. The Forms are then put in the electronic system”.
Mr Kailima said that to ensure openness and reduce possibilities of political parties or candidates crying foul, NEC normally invite all the political parties to a place where the tallying of votes is taking place so that they can witness what is going on.
He pointed out that the tallying station deals with the compilation of constituency and presidential results while that of councilors are done at Ward level. Mr Kailima noted further that at the polling stations, there is a Form number 21A, which has presidential results, political parties’ representatives are given copies, the results are compiled at constituency level in Form number 24A.
He said “We expect that agents will have their forms to check against what is compiled at constituency level and at national level. The Kenyan situation was different, with their system which many people here think is comprehensive, they announced provisional results, that is why later on they had to lock themselves inside and start going through one form after another, suppose if things didn’t go well what would happen.
I want people to understand that even in the United Kingdom, the manual system is applied, I am not saying that manual system is better, but my point here is that use of provisional results gives room for errors, is better late and arrive than hurry and face obstacles”.
Mr Kailima pointed out that comparing IEBC’s just ended elections and the NEC’s 2015, NEC was more quicker in announcing the winner as it had spent only 72 hours to announce the winner of presidential race.
Mr Kailima further noted that NEC was planning to put in place a system, which will be updating and displaying all the confirmed results as they hap pen. “We want to make sure that shortly after the announcement is made by the Chairman of the Commission of a winning candidate, then the system displays immediately,” he said.
Commenting on the independency of NEC, Mr Kailima said it was alarming that those who complains about the commission’s independence do so only during elections. “I have never heard any politician complaining of failure by the commission to execute its duties, the ones that are stipulated by the law, they only fault NEC during elections, saying that it is not independent.
This is not fair. We want to see politicians coming with tangible evidences, for example, one should come with a Form that has different results from the ones that have been announced by the commission, but the mere criticisms of foul play by NEC without evidence it can be perceived as ill comments,” he said.
Commenting on media participations, Mr Kailima said that Tanzanian media should learn from Kenya by being dedicated in informing people in all the procedures especially during elections.
Mr Kailima said that Kenyan media had variety of programs related to elections and most of those were not necessarily being sourced from IEBC, he, however, noted that NEC will try as much as possible to make media’s work easy by rendering utmost support when needed.
“I want to assure our stakeholders that 2020 elections will be like no other, we have our milestones and we will do a lot to improve in technology,” he said. The writer is NEC’s information officer