Dar es Salaam. Tanzanians on the digital platform Twitter have rallied against what they see as the Office of Party Registrar’s ‘double-standards’ on the issue of inter-party cooperation.
The backlash follows the Sept 18, 2020 letter from the Registrar to secretaries-general of parties with permanent registration, reminding them of the arrangement set out by law on intra-party cooperation.
In recent days, there has been pressure from supporters of ACT-Wazalendo and Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema), main opposition parties, to “cooperate” at the presidential level to oust the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s (CCM) candidate, the incumbent President John Magufuli.
It is now formal that ACT-Wazalendo will endorse Chadema’s presidential candidate on Tanzania Tundu Lissu and Chadema will endorse ACT-Wazalendo’s presidential candidate for Zanzibar Seif Shariff Hamad. Lissu has personally endorsed Mr Hamad when addressing a campaign rally at Kibandamaiti grounds in Unguja.
On his part, Mr Hamad also hinted at this prospect during one of his campaign rallies, saying that knows that Lissu will be Tanzania’s next president:
“I know that for the Union Government, the president will be Tundu Lissu, right? Who will it be? Tundu Lissu.”
This is despite the fact that ACT-Wazalendo had its own presidential candidate Mr Bernard Membe.
In his letter, the Registrar referred to Section 11A of the Political Parties Act, Cap 258, which talks about forming a coalition.
The law requires that parties that want to form a coalition should do so three months before the general election.
Section 11A subsection 3 and 4 states that: “A coalition agreement entered into before a general election shall be submitted to the Registrar at least three months before that election. A coalition agreement entered into after the general election shall be submitted to the Registrar within fourteen days after the signing of the coalition agreement.”
But people on Twitter think that the Registrar confuses ‘coalition’ with ‘cooperation.’
Abdul Nondo, ACT-Wazalendo Youth Wing Chairperson, for example, is one of those people. In a Twitter post, Mr Nondo said:
“Registrar there’s a difference between coalition and cooperation. We know the time for the coalition has expired. This is cooperation.”
Others think that the Registrar is not fair to some opposition parties. They point out the announcement by Tanzania Labour Party (TLP) to endorse Mr Magufuli and the Registrar’s failure to issue a letter.
One those who raised this concern is Jon Mrema, Chadema’s Director of Communications and Foreign Affairs. In a Twitter post, Mrema wondered:“[TLP] even made posters, and you didn’t question them.”
But what will happen if the two parties decide to cooperate ahead of 2020 polls? According to Deputy Political Parties Registrar Sisty Nyahoza, Chadema and ACT-Wazalendo will be violating the law.
Mr Nyahoza made the remarks during an interview with a local radio station Wasafi FM, where he said: “They were supposed to do so 90 days before the election, per coalition requirements [set out by the Political Parties Act]. Because they didn’t, they cannot do it now arbitrarily. If they do, they’ll be violating the law.”
“Following [Chadema’s] Central Committee meeting [on October 3, 2020], we declared our commitment to endorse ACT-Wazalendo presidential candidate for Zanzibar Hon. Maalif Seif [Sharif] Hamad.”