Who Owns ACT Now?
By Jaston Binala.
Duplicated use of the acronym ACT in Tanzania for political purposes and agricultural activism has resulted in conflict.
The Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT) wants the recently registered political party Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo) to drop the ACT part of its name because the duplication is creating confusion in society.
The agricultural council has the acronym ACT registered with relevant authorities for exclusive use, Janeth Bitegeko, the Agricultural Council of Tanzania Executive Director said. As it is at the moment, she explained, people in Tanzania mistake the agricultural council for a political party because the same acronym is used by a political party.
Talks are going on to ask the political party to drop the acronym, Ms Bitegeko said. But the ACT-Wazalendo Party Chairperson, Anna Mgwira said there was no conflict in this duplication because these were two different organizations serving two different interests. Mgwira also said no talks were going on.
The party chairperson said, however, that the question of problems associated with any conflict resulting from duplication of the name was discussed when the party was being formed in 2015. The members agreed at the time that the issue would be discussed if any conflict came from duplication of the name of the party. Mgwira also said the party was aware there were three other similar acronyms in addition to the Agricultural Council of Tanzania but the party did not see any conflict in the situation.
Estariano Mahingira, A business law and trademarks expert in Dar es Salaam said there may be an issue to address if one of the contenting parties has the acronym registered for exclusive use under the Trade and Service Marks Act which gives the right to use marks exclusively.
However, Mahingira said, both the council and the political party use ACT as a mere acronym where their real names are completely different, adding: “Nobody has the exclusive right to use an acronym.”
ACT-Wazalendo was formed last year as a splinter group from the opposition Chama Cha Demockasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) when the then Deputy Secretary General Zitto Zuberi Kabwe and the CHADEMA central committee member Dr. Kitila Mkumbo were sacked.
The agricultural council was formed in 1999 first as the Tanzania Chamber of Agriculture and Livestock which changed its name to the Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT) in 2005.