Observers: Many Eligible Igunga Voters To Miss Poll


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Aug 2, 2010
Wed, Sep 28th, 2011
Wed, Sep 28th, 2011| Tanzania


TACCEO Chairperson, Ms Martina Kabisama

Many eligible voters in Igunga constituency, Tabora Region will not take part in Sunday's bye-election because the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has not updated the voter register.

The register was last updated last year.

This was revealed in
Dar es Salaam yesterday by Tanzania Civil Society Consortium on Election Observation (TACCEO) chairperson Martina Kabisama in a brief to journalists on the progress of the Igunga by–election.
TACCEO is a coalition of 16 civil society organisations under the coordination of Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC).

She said the observers deployed in Igunga District have visited all the 26 wards to inspect the polling stations and their locations.

According to Kabisama the observers have discovered a number of shortfalls in political parties' preparations for campaigns and coordination of the election exercise by NEC.

Among the shortfalls is the failure to update the voter register, an omission she said will deny some Igunga residents their democratic right to elect their legislator. However, she did not divulge the number of those who will not be able to vote.

"We received official information from the Igunga returning officer that the statistics for voters registered for last year's general election will be used in the by-election," Kabisama said.

She added: "There are no changes in terms of the number of polling stations or the number of voters….This raises doubts because there are many eligible voters who will be denied their right to vote for their MP."

Kabisama cited some factors which necessitate the updating of the voter register as eligible voters who were under 18 years when NEC last updated the voter register; those who lost their voting cards and people who have moved into the constituency.

On updating the voter register, TACCEO election affairs coordinator Merick Luvinga said the election law is not clear on when the voter register should updated, only saying: "When it is necessary."

He said according to NEC the register is updated after every two years.

Luvinga said they contacted the Igunga returning officer, Martha Bayo, who told them that last year's records will be used during the bye-election because the government did not have funds to update the register.

The TACCEO chairperson said other shortcomings during the campaign include failure by political parties to observe the campaign schedules, violation of human rights and failure by some media outlets to provide correct information about elections.

Kabisama said the consortium will deploy a team of 226 election observers to monitor the counting of votes.

She said the observation was continuation of the great job done during the General Election last year and which focuses on unveiling issues that transpire during elections and how NEC coordinates the exercise.

For her part, LHRC Acting Executive Director Lulu Urio said the Igunga bye-election faulted the excessive involvement of government leaders in the ongoing campaigns in Igunga constituency.

She stressed that there is a need to have a new constitution which will specify the responsibilities of government leaders and political party activities during elections.

Urio said that the Igunga bye–election has been dominated by lawmakers and government leaders campaigning for their parties' contestants.

Contacted for comments on the updating of the voters register, NEC Director for Elections Rajab Kiravu said the voter register cannot be updated in every election.

According to the laws of the land, the register is supposed to be updated after every two years.

Igunga residents are set to elect their MP on Sunday following the resignation of their former legislator, Rostam Aziz.

By Lydia Shekighenda,
The Guardian


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