Dar es Salaam. The High Court of Tanzania on Monday, January 14, 2019 quashed a case filed by three opposition politicians, challenging the Political Parties Bill.
The ruling party dominated Parliament is expected to debate and very likely endorse the controversial Bill that seeks to repeal the Political Parties Act (1992).
The opposition believes the Bill seeks to suppress pluralist politics in the country.
The three politicians Kigoma Urban MP, Zitto Kabwe, CUF acting Deputy Secretary General Joram Bashange and CUF’s Director of Information, Publicity and Public Communications Salim Bimani, representing a coalition of 10 opposition parties, had wanted the court to block the government from tabling the bill in Parliament, which they say will paralyse political activity in the country.
The three filed the case under certificate of urgency on December 20, banking on an argument that the proposed amendments to the law were attempts by the government to exclude opposition parties from engaging in political activities.
The goal of filing the case is, therefore, to block the Bill from being debated in the august House later this month (January 2019) to give room for further negotiations on the planned law before it goes through the approval processes.
But, Mr Kabwe told the media immediately after the judgement on Monday, January 14, 2019 that the High Court used Section 8 (3) of the Basic Rights and Duties Enforcement Act to drop their case.
The Section provides that, “The High Court shall dismiss every application brought under this Act which it is satisfied is brought only on the grounds that the provisions of sections 12 to 29 of the Constitution are likely to be contravened by reason of proposals contained in any Bill which, at the date of the application, has not become a law.”
“We have therefore directed our lawyers to start the processes of filing a case to challenge the section of the law used by the High Court to drop our case,” he told the media.
He said opposition parties will continue fighting for rights and democracy using the judiciary arm being as part of resolutions of their Zanzibar Declaration.
“We respect the judgement, but we will keep on fighting for our rights through the court because we trust it,” he said.
The coalition of ten opposition parties are of the view that the Bill contravenes the 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania.
They believe that the Bill aimed at suppressing the opposition and criminalising political activities and provide more powers to the Registrar of Political Parties.
While the opposition has been contesting a 2016 directive by President John Magufuli that prevents political parties from holding rallies, they fear that the Political Parties Bill will formalise a crackdown on opposition parties.
The 10 opposition parties have fronted three applicants — Joran Bashange, Salim Bimani and Zitto Kabwe — to challenge the Bill as contravening the Constitution, interfering with the freedoms of expression, privacy and the right for parties to manage their affairs. The respondent is the Attorney-General.