Our new Election Expenses Act 2010 appeared to be what we expected – another means of shoring up ruling party dominance by means of a thicket of regulations and procedures that would be impossible to properly implement for all candidates. What has received little coverage is that it also targets Civil Society Organisations.
Section 13 appears to target advocacy and awareness raising campaigns entered into by “Non Government Organisations, Faith Based Organisations and Community Based Organisations” and seems to require them to abide by the same disclosure requirements that affect candidates.
The experience of the NGO HakiElimu in 2005 indicates that the ruling party is not lacking means of quietening dissenting voices. Recall that HakiElimu released a report on the Primary Education Development Programme, based on publicly available government sources, that didn’t put the programme in a good light. Cue the issuing of the infamous Circular No. 5 from the Ministry of Education which proscribed any HakiElimu activities in government schools.
Not that such measures were necessarily needed. As someone who works for a well known Tanzanian advocacy outfit said to me yesterday, “effectively we just close down for three months at each election”.
But the bigger question may be the validity of the act as signed by Kikwete. Wilibrod Slaa of Chadema is claiming that the act assented to by Kikwete is not the same as the one passed by the National Assembly.
And if it’s not the same, then who in his administration is setting out to embarrass Kikwete? If so, it wouldn’t be the first time.
But at least as much coverage this week has been given to Sheikh Yahya Hussein’s latest predictions. These include claims that Sitta is “untouchable” but also that Lowassa will continue to shine and make a move in 2015. He has annoyed a lot of people as usual, showing favour to some but not others. But also for reminding us of the importance of the occult in many people’s lives, something that never goes down well.
But more to the point, if in future the Sheikh wants to tell it like he thinks it might be within the official 90 day campaign period, will that be covered by Section 13 of the Act? Will we finally get a chance to see the Sheikh’s accounts? If so, the Act may be well be worth it after all.