Tanzania — Opposition Cries Foul, Alleging Fraud

  • “Voting reports indicate widespread irregularities in the form of preventing our polling agents from accessing polling stations.”
  • Major social media networks— such as WhatsApp and Twitter— have been blocked across the country.
  • President Magufuli’s first term in office was marked by repression and an authoritarian style of governance.

The main opposition candidate for the presidency in Tanzania, Tundu Lissu, protested today what he described as “large-scale irregularities” that threaten the integrity of the Tanzanian Presidential elections outcome. General elections are taking place in the country today.

People queue at Mtupepo Primary School polling station in Mtoni, Zanzibar, on October 28, 2020.

“Voting reports indicate widespread irregularities in the form of preventing our polling agents from accessing polling stations,” Lissu said on Twitter, alleging ballot boxes had been stuffed in some locations. 

Tundu Lissu also warned of the refusal to allow observers to enter the polling stations, and to discover full ballot boxes, especially in Dar es Salam. “If this continues, mass democratic action will be the only option to protect the integrity of the election.” warned Lissu.

Another key indicator that the government isn’t keen on a free, fair, or credible election is the fact that major social media networks— such as WhatsApp and Twitter— have been blocked across the country, and are only accessible through virtual private networks (VPN).

In a polling station in Dodoma, voter Jackson Daudi said, “I hope voting will go smoothly and the electoral body will be fair to all candidates. I believe justice will prevail.”

Another voter, Nestor Shoo, from the country’s northern town of Moshi, called upon the electoral commission to show “impartiality in conducting the elections so that there can be peace.”

Tanzania, a country with over 29 million registered voters, is today voting to elect the president of the country, as well as the president of the autonomous region of Zanzibar, and respective parliamentarians.

Prior to today’s elections, the campaigns were marked by repression of the opposition and infringement of basic freedoms by the administration led by the current President, John Magufuli.

President Magufuli, nicknamed “Bulldozer,” for his forceful manner of getting things done, has been at the helm of the country’s leadership for the past five years and is seeking a fresh mandate to continue governing the East African nation.

A Tanzania National Electoral Commission (NEC) official prepares ballot boxes as early morning queues of voters start to form at Wazo Hill polling station in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on October 28, 2020.

Magufuli’s first term in office was marked by repression and an authoritarian style of governance that saw the basic freedoms in the country infringed upon. In addition, Magufuli harassed his administration’s critics and engaged in arbitrary arrests.

Magufuli is in a tight re-election race against his key opponent, Lissu, a 52 year-old leader of the main opposition Chadema party. Lissu just recently returned to the country in July, after three years in exile.

The last days before the elections were marked by violence, with the opposition accusing the authorities of killing at least ten supporters of Chadema.

In the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, scenarios of electoral violence are a common phenomenon. On Tuesday, the situation there was tense, after the opposition candidate for the presidency of the autonomous region, Seif Sharif Hamad, accused the security forces of having killed ten people at the site. The police have denied the allegations. 

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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