Opposition rejects voter statistics ahead of Tanzania local govt polls

What you need to know:

Opposition parties query the authenticity of the number of registered voters for the civic elections, which stands at 19.6 million, despite reported low turnout

Dodoma/Dar. Leaders of opposition political parties yesterday expressed their doubts over released number of voters registered for civic polls slated for November 24.

This comes after the minister of state in the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG), Mr Selemani Jafo, told reporters in Dodoma that 19.6 million Tanzanians have registered for the forthcoming civic elections.

However, leaders of opposition find the number unrealistic considering low citizen turnouts during the registration process, forcing the government to extend the exercise that started on October 8, 2019 to October 17 instead of October 14.

However, in a quick rejoinder, Mr Jafo insisted that released figures were authentic and were collected from registration stations.

Speaking to The Citizen, the Chadema secretary general, Dr Vincent Mashinji, said the released figures are questionable when considering the low turn out during the registration window.

“The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has 22 million eligible voters, the number that can hardly be reached by PO-RALG. May be they are joking or they intend to spoil this year’s local government elections,” he said.

CUF director of communications and publicity Abdul Kambaya said it was difficult to trust the figures because opposition party agents were denied access at registration stations.

“The actual situation was clear at the registration stations, forcing the government to extend the exercise by three more days,” he said.

For his part, Chauma national vice chairman Kayombo Kabutale called on the citizens to vie for various positions during the civic polls, noting that liberation starts with the civic polls.

“CCM is used at cooking data, but we are aware that the exercise was marred by a low turnout, forcing registration clerks to register people at their respective homes,” he said. The National League for Democracy (NLD) chairman, Mr Tozi Matangwa, said there was a slight increase of registered voters after the government forced public servants to register.

“Government executives were also warned to face the music over registration below average in their areas of jurisdiction. Likewise, public servants were ordered to register in the document,” he said.

“The government should avoid forcing people to cast their ballots because Tanzania is a democratic country and that the move will adversely affect turnout during the election day.” Chadema director of Protocol, Communications and Foreign Affairs John Mrema called on the government to disclose names of registered citizens in respective stations and issue clarification on how data was tallied under poor communications infrastructure in most parts of the country. For her part, the CCM member of the national executive committee (NEC), Ms Angela Akilimali defended released data.

“We have made a huge progress to register 85 percent of 22 million people as compared to 2014 when only 65 per cent were registered,” she said.

Story written by Sharon Sauwa, Pamela Chilongola, Asna Kaniki and Louis Kolumbia