Some days, it all comes together beautifully. I have been procrastinating about doing some research on MP performance in Bunge when I stumbled across this article. Apparently Twaweza has been there and done that. When I get my hands on the actual report, I plan to mine for information about the female MPs and the young MPs because I am sure there is something exciting going on there.
Another process I have been keeping half an eye on is the Independent Candidate issue and today's main story in the Daily News was wonderful in that regard. As the story goes, our constitution makes allowances for independent candidates to stand for election...which was conveniently irrelevant until we actually went multi-party in 1992. I remember my mother describing her voting experience during those days- apparently there would only be the CCM candidate on the ballot. What an embarrassment of choices. Do you vote yea? Do you vote nea? I can't believe anyone bothered getting out of bed to do this.
Anyways, recently the Reverend Christopher Mtikila- a politician after my own heart who specializes in activism using the court room as his battleground- petitioned the government to allow private candidates in 2005. The High Court saw nothing unconstitutional in his petition, and in May of 2006 'gave the AG between the date of delivery of the judgement and the next general elections to put in place a legislative mechanism that would allow private candidates to participate in elections alongside those representing political parties.' The government, naturally, appealed.
February 2010: the government has just remembered it hasn't taken care of the independent candidate problem and there are only ten months and maybe four Bunge sessions left to push through antagonistic legislation. So the Deputy Attorney General shows up in front of seven justices of the High Court to fix the matter by claiming that the government's appeal against the High Court's decision is 'a stay of execution upon the decision sought to be appealed against'. Mr. Masaju was met with this gem:
"We wish to refresh the memories of the learned Deputy Attorney General and his team that an appeal does not operate as an automatic stay [...] as it is at the moment and onward to the General Elections in October is what the High Court has decided, that is, independent candidates are allowed."
Apparently not all our public servants are comatose at the wheel, and I intend to savor this moment in our political development because some other issues are defying my comprehension: the legalities of the proposed coalition government in Zanzibar. Does anyone out there have a clue to spare? I can't tell what my fellow citizens are thinking or intending, exactly, over there on the island and I have a horrible suspicion that they don't know either. Also, Freeman Mbowe's newspaper has been saying some strange things about it and it is giving me a headache.