The Competence of the Electoral Commission to Conduct Free and Fair Elections in Tanzania: A Legal Analysis

  •  Ryoba Marwa    


The credibility of election being termed as free and fair election cannot be examined without examining the competence and independence of the Electoral Commission with mandates of conducting the elections. In Tanzania, Electoral Commission of Tanzania vested with mandates of conducting elections is constitutionally and statutorily described to be an independent body with the mandates of carrying out its functions without adhering to directives from any person. Nonetheless, the analysis in this study reveals that the Electoral Commission of Tanzania’s set-up is unlikely to run elections and produce a government that reflects the will of Tanzanian voters. This is so because the said Electoral Commission is not independent of the ruling party, in particular the influence of the incumbent President. The incumbent President's legal mandates in interfering with the Commission's functioning give the ruling party an advantage over other political parties during elections. The incumbent President is more likely to dictate election results than the Electoral Commission. These create an unfair playground for other participating parties during elections. It is also revealed that the courts in Tanzania lack jurisdiction to deal with petitions against presidential results once declared by the Electoral Commission. As such, the independence and impartiality of the Electoral Commission to run free and fair elections remain a serious legal concern for the supporters of the effective functioning of democracy. Lastly, this paper concludes that the Electoral Commission of Tanzania is not competent, impartial and independent to run credible, free and fair election in the country. Thus, this calls for serious legal reform to establish an electoral body capable of conducting free and fair elections in the country.

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