Nicodemus Minde, Arusha
Jubilant celebrations echoed from Dar es Salaam to Arusha. The ecstatic celebrations were not only felt by the people of Arusha Urban Constituency of who were denied for almost two years their right to have an MP, but to everyone with progressive democratic ideals. Godbless Lema was reinstated as the Arusha Urban legislator by the Court of Appeal after a protracted legal battle stretching to almost two years. Lema had lost his seat after the High Court nullified his victory on grounds that he had engaged in election malpractices leading to his election in 2010. The charges were that he had used abusive language against his opponent Batilda Burhan which was interpreted to contravene the election code of ethics and regulations. The charge was seen by many as a political witch hunt aimed at dethroning Lema who had won on the opposition party Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) beating the ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM).
Reading the judgment before the court, the Deputy Registrar for the court of Appeal, Elizabeth Mkwizu said that there was no evidence to show that the people who filed the petition against Lema were Arusha voters and did not possess any voter identity cards. The judgment by the Appeals Court has raised eyebrows on the exact motive behind the case. We should therefore critically examine the lessons from his acquittal and way forward.
The case has given Chadema more political currency
The progenitors or the masterminds behind the case must have miscalculated the outcome of the case. They put themselves in a political quagmire which in whatever way could have led to win-win situation for the opposition party. That is to mean that appellants which in this context are the legal counsel of the MP together with Chadema party and the people of Arusha town would have prevailed whatever the outcome. I argue this from the following theoretical points of departure. First, if in the unlikeliest event that the Appeals Court could have annulled Lema’s seat, then the people of his constituency either through a by election or mass protest could have reinstated him as their leader. Arusha, being a cosmopolitan constituency and with a wave of political awakening could have done what it takes to bring their man back. Secondly, pursuant to the verdict given by the Appeals Court to reinstate Lema is in itself a double victory. The verdict is a testament to the wheels of justice, which were served. The verdict is a hummer blow to the detractors of progress, the doomsayers of justice and the marauders of democracy and people power. It is rewarding that the evil forces have been defeated. Chadema and democracy has triumphed.
The way forward
Chadema party should now embrace itself for more political witch hunts and constant negative propaganda. This notwithstanding, Chadema should use this victory to spearhead change in Tanzania. The party has branded itself as an alternative choice to the people of Tanzania. The party has modeled itself as a crusader for political accountability by shaming corrupt government officials and institutions. The party has rallied people to shun leaders that are involved in grand corruption and economic malpractices. The party and the people with good will of Tanzania should now ready themselves for change that will inspire Tanzania to economic heights and prosperity. We can do it. God bless Tanzania.