The East African Court of Justice Arusha, 18 February 2014, First Instance Division yesterday heard evidence from two witnesses of the Applicant (Anthony Calist Komu) on a matter concerning elections of representatives of the United Republic of Tanzania to the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA). The case was filed by Anthony Calist Komu, a member of a Political Party Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA), against the Attorney General of the United Republic of Tanzania.
The Applicant who unsuccessfully contested for EALA membership is challenging the process of the said elections on grounds that it violated Article 50(1) of the EAC Treaty, which provides the procedure on how to elect and who shall represent the National Assembly of each Partner State in EALA.
The first witness, Mr. Anthony Calist Komu, in his evidence said that the elections did not take into account the spirit of Article 50 of the Treaty. Stating that, before the elections were conducted, Honourable John Mnyika MP, made unsuccessful efforts to alert the Tanzania National Assembly that it should ensure adherence to Article 50 of the Treaty by having proportional representation of various Political Parties.
Mr. Komu further said that the four (4) groups created by the Tanzania National Assembly: Group A – Gender; Group B – Tanzania/Zanzibar; Group C – Opposition Parties and; Group D –Tanzania Mainland, were not sufficient to ensure justice and that no mechanism was put in place to ensure various Political Parties were elected to EALA based on their representation as it was done for the Gender category.
He was of the view that his party being an official Opposition Party in the Tanzanian Parliament should have been given a chance to be elected to maintain an alternative view. He also stated that his party which holds 14% of the parliamentary seats could have been recognised as distinct group/shades of opinion in the election process to ensure their representation to EALA. That, contrary to Article 50 of the Treaty, the election included political parties like Tanzania Democratic Alliance (TADEA) which were not eligible as they do not have any representation in the National Assembly.
The second witness, Hon. John Mnyika said that, he observed the irregularities in the EALA election process in 2006 when the Civic United Front (CUF) was then an official opposition party in the National Assembly, yet it did not get a seat in the EALA election. Hon. Mnyika pronounced being proactive in an effort to rectify the process for the 2012 elections.
He said he did so by writing to the Speaker and Clerk to the National Assembly to amend the schedule of the Parliamentary Standing Order and Rule 12 of the same with regard to nomination of candidates to safeguard representation of special interest groups and official opposition parties; however his proposals were not admitted.
Hon. Mnyika said that given the statistics of political parties in the Tanzania Parliament, where Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) has 74% of Parliamentary seats, CHADEMA 14% and CUF 11%, CHADEMA as an official opposition party should have a sit in the EALA election. He said that the participation of parties like Tanzania Democratic Alliance (TADEA) which did not have representation in the National Assembly was contrary to Article 50 of the Treaty.
Hon. Mnyika expressed his fear that if no correct interpretation is provided for Article 50 of the Treaty, in future there will be a scenario where parties with 45% or 46% of Parliamentary seats in the National Assembly will have 0% representation in EALA, as the party with majority will always abuse its majority even when such majority is 51% against the other with 49%.
The Applicant’s Advocate at the hearing was Mr. Edson Mbogoro while the Respondent was represented by Mr. Obadia Kameya and Mark Mulwambo appearing before the bench of the First Instance Division.
Article 50 (1) of the Treaty provides that; The National Assembly of each Partner State shall elect, not from among its members, nine member s of the Assembly, who shall represent as much as it is feasible, the various political parties represented in the National Assembly, shades of opinion, gender and other special interest groups in that Partner State, in a accordance with such procedure a s the National Assembly of each Partner State may determine.
CHADEMA is a conservative political party in Tanzania that is shaping its profile into that of the government-in-waiting, on the verge of dislodging Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) from power. It campaigns largely on an anti-corruption platform. The name is short for Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo, Swahili for Party for Democracy and Progress.
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