Court clears way for Mufti election

By Mashaka Mgeta, The Guardian, Saturday 12 October 2002

The High Court yesterday dismissed a plea for an order of injunction against the pending election of the new Mufti, who will head the Tanzania National Muslim Council (Bakwata).

The petitioners, Abubakar Juma Mwilima, Ali Said Bassaleh, Ramadhani Rubama and Omar Mbalamwezi, had lodged a case praying for the High Court to grant them an injunction order restricting the holding of the election.

They argued that holding the planned election would contravene the Bakwata Constitution and that of the United Republic of Tanzania. The sheikhs prayed for the High Court to declare both Bakwata and its constitution as null and void.

Some of the arguments were that the Constitution of Bakwata was infringing their freedom of expression on issues pertaining to their religion, that it was forcing them to become members of Bakwata and created room for some people to misappropriate the interests of the highest religious body contrary to the Islamic religion.

The petitioners prayed for the High Court to grant them an injunction order, restricting the holding of election of a new Mufti scheduled for tomorrow in Dodoma, pending determination of the case.They also argued that, if the election would be held as planned, they would suffer irreparable damages.

In his ruling, High Court Judge Luhekelo Kyando said that although the main case had a right to be heard, the Court saw no convincing reasons to grant an injunction order.

Judge Kyando said that the Court could not grant an injunction order basing on some reasons, including filing the case which was already time barred and failure to state precisely the damages which they could suffer, once the election is held.

He added that it was too difficult to convince the court on the said damages while all petitioners had told the court that they joined Bakwata in 1968.

Granting an injunction order, would mean Bakwata and the candidates would suffer due to costs of financing the election, Judge Kyando said.

Judge Kyando said that the main case would be mentioned on October 17, this year. Advocates, Professor Abdallah Safari, Charles Sengalawe and Fakihi Jundu, represented the petitioners while Advocate, Joseph Tadayo, represented Bakwata.