Three CCM members seek Lema election case judgment review

The Court of Appeal is expected on May 13, to hear the application by three Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) members, seeking review of the court’s judgment, restoring election of Mr Godbless Lema, as Member of Parliament (MP) for Arusha Urban Constituency.

Mr Godbless Lema

Mr Godbless Lema

The members of the ruling party, Musa Hamis Mkanga, Agness Gidion Mollel and Happy Emmannuel Kivuyo filed their application on February 12, this year, advancing several grounds to fault the ruling by Justices Nathalia Kimaro, Bernard Luanda and Salum Massati.

In their decision dated December 21, 2012, the judges quashed the findings given by High Court Judge Gabriel Rwakibarila, who had nullified the election results in favour of Mr Lema against his close challenger, Dr Batilda Burian.

Dr Burian, currently Tanzanian High Commissioner to Kenya, had contested the seat under CCM, but lost in the 2010 general election to Mr Lema of the opposition party, Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema).

The appeal judges held, among others, that the three applicants (CCM members) had no locus standi to petition the High Court to challenge the election results on grounds that the winner had violated election rules for using abusive language during campaigning against the loser.

But the trio asks same judges to revise their decision, alleging their finding on locus standi was in conflict with another decision given by the court, particularly on position for which law between the English Common Law and National Election Act, could be applied in election cases.

“Conflicting decisions by different divisions of the court in respect of substantially the same subject matter have the effect of bringing uncertainty in the law and damaging the integrity of the court,” reads one of grounds for the application.

The applicants further stated that the court erred when it held that there was no evidence on record to indicate that they were registered voters and the court wrongly decided that the right of voters to challenge an election result is limited only to the violation of his or her right to vote.”

In the appeal, Mr Lema had challenged the decision given by the High Court on April 5, 2012, declaring his election in the 2010 General Election null and void. Lema polled 56,561 votes, while Dr Burian, a former Cabinet Minister, finished a distant second with 37,460 votes.

Lema’s victory was nullified after the court was satisfied that he uttered defamatory remarks and abusive language against his CCM rival. The opposition party claimed that such claims were not proved as the victim, Dr Burian, never showed up to collaborate them.

By Faustine Kapama, Tanzania Daily News