Opposition party supporters at a past demonstration in Dar es Salaam. Picture: File
Written by The EastAfrican
Sunday, January 17 2010
Tanzanian political parties that eye the October 2010 General Elections will be subjected to stricter financial rules or face possible disqualification, a draft Bill seen by The EastAfrican proposes.
The projected law also suggests that parties that are donor-dependent should receive support not later than three months prior to Election Day, after which the aid will be deemed ‘untimely'.
The Election Expenses Act, 2009, which stipulates the financial dos and donts for political parties, seeks to curb what it calls "illegal practices in the nomination process, election campaigns and actual election" in the country.
It contains punitive provisions on the disclosure of funds before elections campaigns, the limit of election expenses, restrictions on foreign funding, the obligation to keep records and the disqualification of candidates, among others.
It also proposes that voluntary donations from an individual or a local organisation to a political party that exceed Tsh500,000 ($384) and Tsh1,000,000 shillings ($769) respectively be reported to the Registrar within 30 days.
Donors contacted in Dar es Salaam last week said they were aware of the Bill, but added that they needed more time to pore over it and understand its full implications.
The proposal is likely to receive the wrath of the Opposition because of its restriction on political party funding, and because it confers more powers on the Registrar of Political Parties and the minister under whose docket the affairs of political parties fall.
If passed as it is, the Bill will give the Registrar the power to examine and investigate the financial affairs and records of political parties, in addition to the current mandate of registering and monitoring the parties.
Certificate of Urgency
Mr John Tendwa, the country's Registrar of Political Parties, told The EastAfrican last week that the Bill was scheduled to be tabled in Parliament in Dodoma later this month, and that the government had lodged a ‘Certificate of Urgency' to speed up the process.
Reacting to the news, Mr John Bradshaw, the Head of the political, press and projects section at the British High Commission in Dar es Salaam, said the United Kingdom, through the Department for International Development (DfID), was the largest bilateral contributor to Tanzania's elections.
We have already provided £5m (about Tsh10.8 billion) in support to the voter registration process, and a further £4m (about Tsh8.7 billion) to UNDP's Election Support Programme for the 2010 Tanzania General Election," he said, implying some donors had ignored the three-month bar.