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By-elections: candidates are primarily responsible for their nomination fate

By-elections: candidates are primarily responsible for their nomination fate

ELECTION is a process of people picking their representatives who represent them in public offices and in various levels of decisionmaking.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, an election 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. Recently, the electoral body announced by-elections in one constituency and six wards of the Tanzania Mainland.

According to the time table issued by NEC, aspirants will take and returns nomination forms from 9th to 15th November, 2021 and the nomination will be on 15th November, 2021.

Campaigns will commence on 16 November through 10th December, 2021 and elections will be conducted on 11th December, 2021. By-elections in question will be held in Ngorongoro Constituency located in Arusha Region and the wards include Bomalang’ombe in Kilolo District Council, Nyabulanda in Nyang’wale District Council, Ipwani in Mbarali District Council, Likombe in Mtwara Municipal Council, Handali in Chamwino District Council, Nalasi East in Tunduru District Council and Naumbu in Mtwara District Council.

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 a hoping candidate or candidates a chance to be nominated after having presented 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. Returning officer will then verify forms to ensure conformity with legal requirements.

This is an important topic now when the incidents of by-elections have become a common phenomenon in various constituencies and wards following the defection, resignation and deaths of some Members of Parliament and Councilors. Because of the fact that this by-election are concerned with MPs and councilors, this article will focus more on the requirements for nomination for the post in question. 

For the post of MPs the returning officer at the constituency level has the responsibilty 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 applicant.

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 application 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.

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. 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 procedures and 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.

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