ELECTION is a process of people picking their representatives to represent them in public offices and at various levels of decision-making. According to Encyclopedia Britannica this is the formal process of selecting a person for public office or of accepting or rejecting a political proposition by voting.
Elections in an administrative system can be used to fill a vacant post in a National Assembly, Executive, Regional Governments and Local Governments. Here in Tanzania, elections at Ward, Parliamentary and Presidential levels are coordinated, supervised and administered by the National Electoral Commission (NEC).
In ensuring that the playing field is leveled, free, credible and fair in an electoral process, the electoral body has been keen to see to it that all the steps from nomination, campaigning and election day are well coordinated and supervised.
At the nomination stage, NEC announces the nomination date for contenders who have been endorsed by their political parties to submit their nomination forms in the Commission’s offices before the deadline on the set date.
To avoid faults that may rob an aspirant or aspirants a chance to be nominated after presenting a form with errors or a form that has not met the criteria, a candidate is given an opportunity to submit to the returning officer a form, three days before the deadline for verification purposes. The returning officer will then verify the forms to ensure conformity with legal requirements.
At this point in time when by-elections have become a common phenomenon, following the defection, resignation and deaths of some Members of Parliament and Councillors, this information is important.
For the post of an MP, the returning officer at the Constituency level under the Regulation 31 (4) of the National Elections [Presidential and Parliamentary Elections] Regulations 2015 has the responsibility of nominating a candidate for the parliamentary post after having verified that Nomination Form No. 8B and Ethics Form No. 10 have been thoroughly filled.
Form No. 8B is supposed to be filled in capital letters but only one name will appear in capital on the ballot paper, therefore, the candidate has a right to choose which name should appear in capital, that name must be filled first followed by other names.
It is important to note that some candidates have been opposing the nomination of their opponents in the guise of not writing their first names foremost or for not writing their names in a sequence, this matter is not a fault and does not disqualify an aspirant.
In that application form, names of the guarantors are filled in a chart, after which the form will be presented to the returning officer together with four colored passport size photos of the candidate. The form is also supposed to be submitted together with Form No. 10 of a candidate’s declaration to obey and implement election code of ethics of year 2015.
For the form to be complete and acceptable for nomination it must be attached with the political party’s letter introducing or confirming that the candidate is the member of a political party, a declaration of guarantors, a legal declaration of an aspirant and afterwards it will be completed by an authorization from a returning officer.
Section 40 (6) of the National Elections Act, Cap 343 allows for an appeal to be logged against a nominee for the Member of Parliament in case one of the candidate is not happy or does not agree with the decision made by a Returning Officer in nominating the opponent or opponents. Appeal is bound for the National Electoral Commission and the decision made by the commission is final and will not be challenged in the court.
Under Regulation 34 (2) and 27 (2) of the National Elections [Presidential and Parliamentary Elections] Regulations 2015 after the nomination of a candidate, a part that is not persuaded can appeal by filling Form No. 12. However, after the electoral body has presided over the matter any person who is not satisfied can after the election is conducted and a winner is announced challenge the matter in court.
Nomination for aspirants in the councillorship have similar procedures as those of MPs. The Local Authorities [Councillors Elections] Regulations 2015 states that nomination at this level is conducted by constituency returning officer or assistant returning officer after verifying that the candidate has thoroughly filled nomination Form No. 8C and Form No. 10 of obeying and adhering to election code of ethics.
It should be noted, however, that even though the forms and other conditions are similar, the contender for Member of Parliament is required to deposit 50,000/-as a surety while for the councillorship the surety is 5,000/-.
The objection against a nominated contender for councillorship is provided for under Section 44 (3) of the Local Government (Elections) Act, Cap. 292, an opponent or a political party’s registrar can submit objection by filling Form No. 9C. The assistant returning officer attends the case.
After having attended the objection and having made a decision the assistant returning officer will submit the ruling to the returning officer who will determine over whether the ruling is in accordance with the law or not. The returning officer has powers to nullify the verdict.
Section 44 (5) of the Local Government (Elections) Act, Cap. 292, permits candidates to appeal by filling Form No. 12 if they do not agree with the returning officer’s decision over the objection that was made against them.
The National Electoral Commission presides over such appeals. Decision made by the electoral body is final and shall not be challenged in the court of law. However, Section 44 (5) on the other hand gives a room to a side that is not contented with the Commission’s decision to take the matter to court in the aftermath of the election.
- Abdulwakil Saiboko is a Senior Information Officer at the National Electoral Commission