Opinion: Are the electoral amendments a way of outlawing NRM’s own “Independent” MPs?
Well, the first initial reports of the Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill of 2019 wasn’t accurate, the rumours and speculations wasn’t all truthful. Who knows who leaked it like that and for what reason. That is up to TVO to conspire and show the paperwork off. That is his dish to serve and he does it with such skills.
Alas, this piece will be about independents candidates and their eligibility as candidates. Because, that was also important in the leaks and also the associations between organizations/pressure groups and party members. There are still legal boundaries to this, but now more restrictions, than in the past. Just take a look.
“9A. Eligibility to stand as independent candidate.
(1) A person is eligible to stand for election as an independent if that person is not a member of a registered political party or organisation having ceased to be a member of a political party or organisation twelve months before nomination day; or having never been registered as a member of a political party or organisation.
(2) An independent candidate shall be taken to have ceased to be a member of a political party or organisation under subsection (1) (a), if that person has complied with the constitution, rules and regulations of the political party or organisation to which he or she belonged, that relate to cessation of membership of that political party or organisation and was discharged by the political party or organisation.” (Presidential Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2019).
Well, this is straight forward, but this outlawing a practice, which has been done in most parties of late. Most notably in the National Resistance Movement (NRM) where the incumbent loser in any given district or county, have re-run as independent candidates, even while being members of the party. There was even meetings with about 20 Incumbent MPs who lost their Primaries in 2015 at the State House mid-December 2015 ahead of the 2016. Surely, there was also some more who ran on their own accord after losing their primaries earlier in the year. There was also a rise in the amount of Independent MPs in the 10th Parliament. This means, that this method will not be allowed from neither the UPC, DP, FDC or the NRM for that matter. Especially,as the NRM as they have had the most these type of candidates in the previous election.
What this also does, limits and restricts the Independents, meaning if they are Independent. They are not even running under an organization. This means, that possibly, running as independent while being part of People Power. Would be impossible, that is if I understand it correctly. That means, someone running for People Power or for Go-Forward in the previous election. Would have to be registered as member and therefore, not really independent. But aligned to the organization or the party. That would limit the ability for certain individuals.
The original law from 2005 stated only this for any candidate:
“9. Sponsorship of candidates by political organisation or political party
Under the multiparty political system, nomination of candidates may be made by a registered political organisation or political party sponsoring a candidate or by a candidate standing for election as an independent candidate without being sponsored by a political organisation or political party” (Presidential Election Act 2005).
Clearly, that law was more liberal, more free and gave way to more various of ways into parliament or into public office. However, this is now showing that the NRM wants stop their own practice and also make the road to the 11th Parliament harder. Even for the guy himself inflicting this law. Who did use this method, the Minister of Justice Gen. Kahinda Otafiire ran as an Independent Candidate after losing the NRM Primaries. He lost twice, but got the Ministry still, because his one of the loyal subjects of the President.
Nevertheless, expect this to have ramifications. As this law is limiting the people running for Parliament. Unless, the NRM Primaries and others are held 13 months ahead of the up-coming elections. Also, that is if the Electoral Commission allows the parties to hold the Primaries early. Because something got to give. Peace.