Zambian presidential deaths causes Tanzania to rethink

28th January 2015

Aspiring presidential candidates should undergo mandatory medical check-ups, the Tanzania Constitution Forum (TCF) has advised the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

TCF however acknowledges that the recommendation remains verbal and is not backed by any law at the moment since it’s neither contained in the current constitution nor in the proposed new constitution.
The call comes in light of the tragic deaths of at least two sitting Zambian presidents all of which were connected to poor health.
“The result was that the country was forced to conduct new elections which are very costly,” TCF Chairman, Deus Kibamba told reporters yesterday in Dar es Salaam.
 “In light of this, we must take precautionary measures…the country should have all those seeking to vie for the country’s top job to go for medical check-ups before they are allowed to be voted for,” stressed Kibamba.
“The Election Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has now appointed a government agent to conduct medical check-ups on all its eleven presidential candidates,” he added.
“It is now a must in Zambia for any presidential candidate to undergo a thorough medical checkup and failure to do so leads to disqualification,” he said.
 “The move will also reassure the people… wananchi would very much like to know their leaders’ health status before voting them into the State House,” he said noting that it will also subsequently save the public’s money used to rush leaders abroad for treatment.
“Though health issues are private, it’s the wananchi’s right to know the candidates’ health status before electing them Head of State,” Kibamba said.
The TCF Chairman who was part of the observation team in last week’s Zambia presidential elections, took the time to applaud the Zambian government for the fair and democratic elections that saw Edgar Lungu from the Patriotic Front (PF) elected the 6th Zambian president following the death of President Michael Sata.
“We also had the opportunity to learn how their commission handled the elections…things went as planned despite a few challenges,” he said.
“ Tanzania has to borrow a leaf from Zambia in conducting fair, transparent and democratic elections that observe both the rights of the voters and candidates,” he urged.
He pointed out that in Zambia, the ECZ has full mandate to conduct presidential, parliamentary and local government elections.
“Compare that to our NEC which only conducts presidential and parliamentary elections,” he challenged authorities.
Zambian presidents who died while serving their terms are Levy Mwanawasa who died in 2008 who collapsed sing while attending an African Union Summit in Egypt and October last year, President Michael Sata died in London where he had gone for medical check-up.