Tanzania:250 poll petitions already settled by courts

Published by Daily News
On 3 January 2017 saa 11:36
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The judiciary has already determined almost 250 election petitions both at councillorship and parliamentary levels that were filed in different courts in the country following the October 25, 2015 general election results, it has been learnt.

According to statistics released by the Registrar of the High Court, Main Registry, in Dar es Salaam yesterday, 196 councillorship petitions were lodged before Resident Magistrate’s courts all over the country, all of which have been disposed off.

The statistics also show that only one parliamentary election petition is pending among the 53 that were filed before the High Court in different registries in the country.

It is stated that the Dar es Salaam Registry had a total of 11 parliamentary election cases and all except one have been determined. Mtwara, Tabora and Mwanza were second and third registries to register six and five cases respectively.

Other registries with the cases in brackets are Iringa (4), Bukoba (3), Moshi (3), Shinyanga (3), Dodoma (2), Tanga (2), Arusha (1), Songea (1) and Sumbawanga (1).

On councillorship election petitions, Dar es Salaam Region was also leading with 47 cases followed by Tanga with 21 cases. Iringa ranked third for having registered 17 cases, followed by Moshi and Manyara with 12 petitions each.

Other regions with the number of cases in brackets are Bukoba (9), Arusha (8), Mtwara (8), Mara (8), Songea (7), Mbeya (6), Tabora (6), Sumbawanga (4), Lindi (4), Dodoma (4), Mwanza (3), and Kibaha (2), while Njombe, Geita, Shinyanga and Kigoma had one case each.

Successful determination of the cases is linked to introduction by a new rule in the National Elections Act by the Chief Justice, aimed at achieving expeditious resolutions of election disputes.The new Rule 21A requires a witness in election petitions to swear affidavit before entering the witness box.

The CJ had realised pressing need to promote further efficiency in management and disposal of future election petitions and conscious of principles enunciated under Article 107A (2) of the Constitution.

Part of the new Rule reads, “The petitioner shall not less that forty eight hours before the time fixed by the court for trial of an election petition, deliver at the office of the Registrar an affidavit sworn by each witness whom the petitioner intends to call at the trial, setting out substance of his evidence.

The Rule also requires each affidavit shall be enclosed in a sealed envelope together with sufficient certified true copies for each of the judges, all other petitioners in the same petition and respondents and shall be opened by the court when the witness, who sworn the affidavit is called to give evidence.

According to the Rule, the affidavit shall be read by or on behalf of the witness and shall form part of the record of the trial and a deponent may be cross-examined by the respondent and re-examined by the petitioner.

It is stated further under the new rule that a witness for the petitioner or respondent who fails to deliver affidavit shall not be permitted to give evidence without leave of the court and the court shall not grant such leave unless sufficient reason is given for the failure.