Analysis of the Political Parties (Amendment) Act, 2018

Analysis of the Political Parties (Amendment) Act, 2018

Posted 4 years ago

Submitted to The Parliamentary Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs

Submitted on January 17, 2019

Honorable Chair and distinguished members of this Committee

We have honored your kind invitation to contribute to the review of this important Special Bill Supplement (as received) by submitting our written analysis on the proposed amendments. Broadly, we believe that it is important and timely to amend the Political Parties Act (CAP 258, 2002) in order to improve the management of political parties specifically, and broadly for promoting democracy, good governance and development in the country.

We particularly acknowledge several proposed revisions and addition of new sections that:

  • Ensure accountability and transparency in political parties affair: refer, for example to sections on management and reporting of parties’ assets and resources including the role of the office of the CAG
  • Promote principles of democracy; refer for example to sections that prevent political parties from delegating functions of key national organs and provisions on monitoring of intra-party elections and nomination of candidates: areas that have been sources of major conflicts in several political parties over the years
  • Prevent disruption of peace and order by prohibiting political parties from forming militia and paramilitary groups, among others.

However, we have serious reservations on several sections of the proposed amendments such that we believe, if adopted as they are, this Act will have adverse effects on democracy and the basic civic and political rights of citizens of the United Republic of Tanzania. We strongly observe that limiting people’s basic rights and failure to promote democracy in the country will lead to an apathetic citizenry, incapable of meaningfully contributing towards sustainable development for themselves and the nation at large.

Deeply concerned by the unnecessary criminalization of the basic duties and responsibilities of political parties and other actors, combined with excessively punitive measures without provisions for due process in the Act, we make the following general comments:

  1. Throughout the Act, there is need for clarity in the provisions including more specificity to avoid vague and superfluous (redundant) provisions which provide loopholes for abuse of powers and can create fear among concerned stakeholders;
  2. Reduce the powers of the Registrar in the provision of civic education from powers to regulate to powers to guide/monitor and as a result prevent the proposed criminalization of individuals and institutions in providing civic education and capacity building;
  3. The powers of the office of the Registrar over political parties should be reasonable. The proposed amendment grants excessive discretionary powers to the Registrar seriously affecting autonomy and breaching confidentiality in political parties affairs. The Registrar should play a facilitative role rather than acting like a policing organ for political parties;
  4. The Act should provide for establishment of an independent Political Parties Disputes Tribunal with judicial powers to hear and decide on all political parties’ disputes. In the implementation of this Act, the Registrar of Political Parties should work in close collaboration, instead of competition, with other relevant authorities particularly the Political Parties Council and the National Electoral Commission (NEC);
  5. Political parties should embrace and demonstrate principles of good governance as stipulated in the Act, including accountability, transparency and fairness in their conduct;
  6. The Act should be aligned to the constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania and avoid contradictions with already existing laws of the country.

In subsequent pages (see the attached link), we provide detailed analysis to support our general and specific comments. We humbly submit, Center for Strategic Litigation Media Council of Tanzania Legal and Human Rights Centre Tanganyika Law Society Twaweza WAHAMAZA Analysis of the Political Parties (Amendment) Act, 2018: Joint analysis by LHRC, TWAWEZA, TLS, MCT, Center for Strategic Litigation and WAHAMAZA