Saturday, July 18, 2015

Presidential candidacy: Why Ukawa faces deadlock

Dr Alexander Makulilo
An unfriendly electoral legal framework, party subsidy implications and late decisions by the Coalition of the People’s Constitution (UKAWA) on its resolve to field a single presidential candidate are impeding implementation of that vow.

Well placed observers say the wish to field unitary parliamentary candidates for each constituency was also contributing to the difficulties as these too need to be resolved before the four parties involved can reach a consensus on their presidential flag bearer. 
Analysts made observations yesterday in different occasions in a survey by The Guardian, seeking their sentiments on why reaching a consensus on the presidential flag bearer in Ukawa was an uphill task.
Picking a task for the combined opposition major parties was supposed to wound up at the time that CCM would be finishing its business in Dodoma. 
Dr Alexander Makulilo, a senior lecturer at the Department of Political Science and Public Administration at The Hill, said that under the country’s law governing political parties (Political Parties Act, No.5 of 1992) the parties cannot form such an alliance,
Even if they had a single presidential candidate nominated and fielded in the presidential race he or she would still be recognized as the candidate of the party from which he or she was picked, he pointed out.
“The problem originates from the legal framework of the country that does not allow the alliance of political parties. The formation of alliance by separate political parties is not supported by law in Tanzania,” he stated.
In case one political party decides to support another party in the general elections (presidential, parliamentary and councilors elections) it will be doing so at its own peril as the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties will only recognize the party that fielded the specific candidates when it comes to issues of allocation of seats for Special Seats MPs and amounts of subsidy to be offered on the basis of election results as a whole.
Putting his explanations into context, Dr Makulilo said for the opposition coalition to be recognised under the country’s legal framework, the four parties within it were supposed to be deregistered and instead register a single new party at the Office of Registrar of Political Parties. 
 “Ukawa is just an alliance that exists as a political platform. They support each other informally after coming up with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at an earlier point,” he said, referring to the time they decided to walk out of the Constitutional Review Conference mid last year. 
The don explicitly stated that there is no possibility for one political party within Ukawa to provide a presidential candidate and another one provide a running mate, since both the presidential candidate and the running mate must come from the same political party, on the basis of the Act.
Ukawa is alliance consisting of Chadema, the Civic United Front (CUF), NCCR –Mageuzi and the National League for Democracy (NLD). The four parties made a resolve to field a single presidential candidate in the late October general elections.
They also plan to field common parliamentary candidates for each constituency and candidates for the position of ward councilors as sell.
Technically the legal framework is the challenge that UKAWA faces, Dr. Makulilo stated, noting that this aneeds to be reformed in order to allow the formation of such alliance.
In Kenya such alliance is legally viable, in which case it makes elections more democratic as parties can make last minute arrangements for poll purposes and they stand as such in law and election outcomes.
According to Dr Makulilo, the delay of UKAWA leaders to nominate a candidate for the presidency is not something they can be criticized about but the legal framework which puts barriers to the parties.
He ventured to suggest that since the ruling CCM is the common adversary of the various opposition parties, limitations in the legal framework to forestall the formation of such an alliance helps the ruling party as it weakens the room for maneuver of opposition parties.
As the law is itself the main barrier for UKAWA to get ahead in the business of nominations and allocations of who should run in the various polls, other political challenges can scarcely be solved without this limitation being lifted first. 
Harold Sungusia, the director of advocacy and reform in the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), said that attaining five per cent of all presidential votes cast was the basic criteria for a party to obtain Special Seats in the legislature.
“The parties that nominate presidential candidates and the required level of votes qualify to obtain Special Seats,” he said. 
According to Article 66, 67 and 78 of the 1977 Constitution (and as amended), the special seats shall be allocated in accordance with the number of presidential votes. Special seats will not be more than 30 percent of all legislative seats in the Union legislature and 40 percent in the Zanzibar House of Representatives. 
 The number of special seats is not associated with the number of constituencies as votes to pick legislators are not considered for the special seats but presidential votes, he said.
In the current situation arising from the legal framework, a political party getting more presidential votes will have more Special Seats MPs. Therefore the one that brings up the presidential candidate shall take all the special seats upon attaining a certain percentage, which cannot be split between the coalition partners.
 The number of constituencies won by a political party in a general election determines the level of subsidy payments that party will be entitled to in the legislative period that follows, where the number of special seat MPs is also included in entitlement to subsidies.
The top advocacy official said the law as it stands was designed to undermine solidarity among opposition parties.
The main challenge in Ukawa is how constituencies can be distributed, since the smaller coalition partners, NCCR-Mageuzi and NLD seek to obtain optimal common candidacy opportunities as can be realistically expected taking account of influence of the bigger partners, Chadema and CUF.
Deus Kibamba, the chairman of the Constitutional Forum said that Ukawa made the decision to field a single presidential candidate and parliamentary contestants in each constituency rather late in the day.
“Originally Ukawa was formed to fight for a better constitution when the Constituent Assembly was deliberating on the Second Draft in Dodoma. The idea of uniting forces for the general elections came rather late,” he stated.
The strategy to implement the single candidacy idea especially for parliamentary elections was supposed to be charted out by an intra-party technical committee after thorough consultations and a field survey to find out which party has a good number of followers in each constituency.
“Party presence is an important factor to determine which political party candidate is to be fielded in a particular constituency. 
Carrying out consultations and a field survey, especially in constituencies where no Ukawa party has a sitting legislator may not be easy as time is not their side,” he summarily asserted.
Another mistake that Ukawa committed was to make an alliance the property of top leaders of those parties, without having involved party members right from the beginning, the noted activist added.