The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has assured Tanzanians that it will update the Permanent Voters Register (PVR) before the coming General Election to be held in October 2015.
The NEC chairperson, Judge (Rtd) Damian Lubuva, who gave the assurance yesterday said the electoral body has started procuring various tools to be used in updating the document.
Justice Lubuva spoke in Bagamoyo when opening a two-week election training of employees of Tanzania electoral bodies, NEC and ZEC.
“I want Tanzanians not to worry as there is no way we can go into elections without having an updated voter roll,” said Judge Lubuva.
He conceded that the opposition’s claims were very valid, as it was also directed by the law that PVR should be updated before going into an election.
“I’m not sure as to when the exercise will start but what I can assure you is that we will do (update) it before the elections, as the procuring exercise is smoothly going on,” he said.
The chairperson was responding to demands by the opposition, mainly Chadema, which is currently pushing for electoral reforms in a bid to ensure that nearly six million new voters are registered ahead of the General Election next year.
Going by the 2012 census and estimates, that more than one million new voters come on stream each year, it is projected that 5.8 million new ones would be eligible to participate in the 2015 elections, which is seen as a significant number by key political parties.
Concerning the training, Judge Lubuva said that it would equip senior officials with advanced knowledge on how to handle poll rigging, illiterate voters and other challenges which occurred during the last election period.
“Credible elections can guarantee peace and stability in our country…therefore this training is a great step in our collective effort to conduct elections in a professional and credible way,” said the judge.
He added that this would help Tanzania become an example on best practices in election management, not only in the region, but also for other parts of the world. Justice Lubuva requested participants to work hard and ensure they acquire new skills to plough back into their respective institutions.
Speaking at the official opening session of the training, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) country director, Mr Philippe Poinsot, said the training which is sponsored by UNDP through its Democratic Empowerment Project (DEP) would help to improve the capacity of electoral management bodies.
“It will help the electoral management bodies (EMBs) to undertake long term professional development for their own staff thereby fostering credible, transparent and peaceful elections in the country. It will specifically help the two EMBs to prepare for the referendum and the 2015 General Election,” said Mr Poinsot.
He added that the training was being conducted during the pre-election phases of the electoral cycle so as to ensure that EMBs’ capacity was enhanced long before the commencement of the hustle and bustle of the election campaign period.
Participants in the programme would undergo a certification process that would qualify them as semi-accredited trainers. After both theoretical and practical training, participants would be assessed for certification as semi-accredited trainers.
Meanwhile, Judge Lubuva urged the government to submit the proposed new constituencies as the country heads to the General Election to be held in October 2015.
“We recently had a closed-door meeting with government officials in which I told them to forward the proposals early enough for us to prepare polling stations and other relevant services,” said Judge Lubuva.
He added that according to his experience the government normally forwarded the proposals very late and disrupted the Commission’s plans on how to handle the electoral process.
“We need the proposals to set our plans in accordance with what what the government requires,” he said while adding that for a start he is sure that polling stations would be increased to 104,000, compared to the current 52,000.