ALLOWING independent candidates, conducting local and general elections jointly under one national electoral body and allowing voters to elect women into special seats are among few lessons that observers say Tanzania can learn from the just concluded Kenyan general election.
Sharing their observation on what could be lessons drawn from the general election in Kenya, lecturers in Political Science and Public Administration from a number of higher learning institutions in the country have said there were various substantive things that the government should consider to change in the way elections are conducted.
Senior lecturer in political science from University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Benson Bana, offered his observation plus lessons, saying it was high time the government allowed independent candidature in its laws governing elections.
“Sometimes citizens may want to elect a particular individual into a certain leadership post but may be discouraged to vote for him just because he belongs to a certain political party,” he said.
He added that to expand and strengthen democracy in the country there was a pressing need to remove citizens, especially those who would want to vie in elective posts, from the ropes of political parties.
Speaking about conducting local and general elections jointly under one national electoral body, the political science expert said for a number of years now, the government has been spending a huge chunk of public money to finance the two elections, something that was not necessary.
“The fact that our counterparts in Kenya have been able to elect six groups of leaders at once under the coordination of Indepndendent Electoral Boundaries Commission ( IEBC) indicates that we can do the same here,” he said.
He added that it was feasible for the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to organise both, local government and general elections, a decision that will save public monies. Zanzibaris cast five votes during general elections.
Another lesson that featured prominently in the Kenya general election, according Dr Bana, is the election of women Members of Parliament (Special Seats) by the electorate as opposed to the current arrangement in the country whereby the task is normally left to political parties and their members alone.
“Speacial seats in the Parliament will be meaningful if a special arrangement is devised for women to compete in the constituencies and let voters choose them,” he said. According to Dr Bana, the national electoral body could decide to declare districts as Women Constituencies or any other geographical territory.
Allowing Kenyans in diaspora and prisoners to cast presidential vote is something that Tanzania ought to emulate as well, he said. On decent campaigns Dr Bana said, “During the campaign in Kenya we did not hear abusive language being used or candidates trading dirt words or speeches.
This is something good to learn in our campaigns here.” Another UDSM lecturer, Mr Richard Mbunda hailed the role played by election observers in the Kenya election, saying by any measure they performed well for the benefit of Kenyans, East Africans and the international community.
According to Mr Mbunda, election observers, apart from performing their core duty, played a key role of calming down Kenyans, especially when tempers flared after NASA’s claims on vote manipulation through the hacking of IEBC computer systems surfaced.
“For us, who followed up the preliminary statements made by election observers will not doubt blame the loser in case violence breaks up in Kenya,” Mr Mbunda said. He, too, supported the idea of allowing NEC to organise both the local government and general election.
Prof Gaudence Mpangala from Ruaha Catholic University (RUCU) said the implementability of lessons from Kenya election will only be feasible if Tanzania wrote a new constitution that would pave the way for formation of an independent electoral commission.
“Kenyans today are electing head of counties ( regional commissioners in Tanzanian context) and electing independent candidates into elective posts. These have been made possible after writing a new constitution,” he said.