Tanzania referendum put off


Justice Damian Lubuva, Tanzania National Election Commission Chairperson

Dar es Salaam-The Tanzania National Electoral Commission (NEC) has officially called off the planned constitutional referendum that was slated for April 30, citing incomplete registration of voters through the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR).

The new referendum date will be announced later this year after internal consultation with the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC), retired Judge Damian Lubuva, the Commission chairperson has said.

Justice Lubuva told a press conference in Dar es Salaam on Thursday that the indefinite postponement of the historic event will also heavily depend on the completion of the ongoing process to list voters through BVR devices.

NEC said at least $72 million (about 133.3 billion) has been spent by the government to procure the required BVR kits and the Commission expects that by July this year the exercise to update the voters’ register will be on course.

NEC made the announcement in Dar es Salaam, just a day after Members of Parliament especially from the Opposition demanded the National Assembly Speaker Anne Makinda to compel the government to issue statement on the controversy surrounding the implementation of updating the voters’ register through BVR.

But Justice Lubuva said it’s imperative that for the referendum or general election to be conducted the voters’ register has to be updated, adding that as soon as the ongoing process to update the document is complete the referendum will be carried out

“BVR is chiefly meant for registering voters but it’s not in any way related with voting process,” he said.

Experience from the pilot project and the entire exercise to list voters in Njombe evoked a good turn up for people interested in registering.

NEC announced that it expects to receive at least 248 BVR kits and 1600 more are to be imported later.

He said the government had commissioned a South African based firm, Lithotech, to import the devices currently assembled in China. “We expect more devices to jet in considering that the government had so far paid all the dues,” Justice Lubuva said.

According to Lubuva once the exercise in Njombe is completed on April 18, the registration will spread to Lindi, Mtwara, Iringa and Ruvuma.

The NEC boss also challenged local government authorities to help raise awareness for people to turn-up and register.