Dar es Salaam. Chadema presidential candidate Tundu Lissu claimed yesterday there were vote-rigging plans on the October 28 polls meant to deny the opposition victory across all the electoral levels.
He said the plot included massive manipulation of the voter register, existence of fake polling centres and alleged planned violence against targeted opposition leaders.
The National Electoral Commission (NEC) was not immediately available yesterday to answer to the allegations made by Mr Lissu, but on Friday the director of elections at the polls agency, Dr Charles Mahera, issued a lengthy statement in which he dismissed rigging claims he said were being bandied around by some people.
Dr Mahera said NEC had identified the presence of a group of people including high-level political party leaders who, he claimed, were planning to tarnish the image of the electoral body.
“First, they are planning to spread fake information and they have already begun, second, they are committed to finding and placing false and unrealistic images in relation to the electoral processes, with the aim of causing destruction to election stakeholders and the general public,” said Dr Mahera in his statement.
He said one identified group was found spreading propaganda on voicemail to the public. “One of the threats is the ongoing wave of allegations of fake polling stations,” said Dr Mahera, urging the public to ignore such information.
The top NEC official said the voter register was transparent and election stakeholders were involved in all stages of its preparation.
He said all political parties have already been given the register with the list of all polling stations (80155) across the country.
“These are the polling stations that will be used to vote on the election day and not otherwise,” Dr Mahera said.
In his press conference in Lindi town yesterday, Mr Lissu who is the opposition’s top contender for the elections, warned that anyone who plotted and carried out any rigging or endangered the lives of the public would face unspecified consequences. He however repeated his threats to have them taken to the International Criminal Court, in The Hague over rights abuse.
He spoke in the morning before embarking on his campaigning in Ruvuma and also detailed how authorities have frustrated his campaign, forcing him out of campaigning in most parts of the Southern Region.
On the rigging allegations, the Chadema candidate said they have begun to see signs of some people wanting to either disrupt the elections or commit enormous vote theft at their expense. “They stand no chance of beating us in a free and fair election and now are not ashamed of wanting to rig the vote,” said Lissu, who blamed NEC, security agencies and their rivals. The candidate said a preliminary survey by their experts has indicated that the recently released permanent voter register “likely contained millions of ghost voters.” However, he said the experts were compiling the data and a formal report would be shared with the public soon.
“It is also likely that there are thousands of fake polling and tallying stations, there are unqualified and non-existent voters. This is a clear indication that they think they can steal the election which they clearly do not have the ability to win,” he claimed.
Lissu said their informers within the ruling party, NEC and ordinary people, have told them the other strategy is the use of criminal acts to intimidate the opposition and their agents as well as supporters with the aim of forcefully altering the outcome of the voting.
“The actions that we are witnessing at the moment and that are on the rise, including the use of state organs, government institutions, are a prime examples of the said plot and according to the information given to us, in these last days of the campaign we are going to witness violent actions against some of us.”
“There is an ongoing investigation of all the events that are taking place and that have already taken place and there is a list of people being watched,” said Lissu.
He added: “Anyone who uses pirate tactics to disrupt the elections or cause a disaster for Tanzanians will join the list of those who will go to the ICC ... so if they think they will disrupt the election and then remain safe, they should forget it.”