Dar es Salaam. In October, this year, eligible voters will have the opportunity of electing presidents of the United Republic of Tanzania and Zanzibar, Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Representatives and councillors, who will lead for the next five years.
Tanzania is going to run its 15th General Election this year since the first one was held in 1958. However, an analysis shows that the number of citizens getting registered and those failing to turn up to vote has been fluctuating sometimes causing only a few people to elect the new leaders.
National Electoral Commission’s (NEC) director of elections Charles Mahera says once a person gets regis-tered, s/he is entitled to turn up and vote, although it is not compulsory for them to do so.
Dr Mahera keeps elaborating that if over 60 percent of registered voters turn up to vote, then that will not be a bad situation.“The main thing here is for citizens to be provided with voter education so they can understand the impor-tance of choosing their leaders,” says Dr Mahera.
Speaking over the phone recently to The Citizen, Dr Mahera says, in cooperation with different stake-holders, they are well prepared for this year’s polls by providing suffi-cient voter education and calling upon registered voters to keep their voter cards well.
“We have readjusted well for pro-viding voter education that stood at 67 percent last year and we hope this year the percentage will increase.
“I believe that the awareness of Tanzanians of those past years is quite different now because even when we look at academics of those past years, they are different from the current ones. It is our hope that the turnout percentage will increase this year,” says Dr Mahera.
For his part, Tanzania Citizens’ Information Bureau (TCIB) director Deus Kibamba says: “Through our study, the main reason that makes people turn up to register is to find voter cards, which in the past were used for more than its main purpose of voting.”
“NEC had thought that people responded well to voter registrations, but in the true sense the latter were in need of voter cards in order to use them in other areas.
“However, this year things are going to be different for them because a voter card will be used for only one job of voting and the number of voters may fall,” says Mr Kibamba.
According to the TCIB director, an unofficial study shows that once the country changes its leader, who has ended his tenure of office, then the number of voters will increase.
He adds that the issue of voter education has been a problem that con-tributes to making the citizens not to be motivated to go for voting.
However, Mr Kibamba has made a call to different groups to mobilize the citizens to get registered and turn up to choose their leaders.
For his part, the chairperson of the Tanzania Political Parties’ Council, John Shibuda, says that in every General Election people are usually motivated to register and vote.
He gave the example of the 2015 polls when a slogan for reforms made many people to get registered and vote because everybody wanted to be part of bringing about those reforms.
“What I can foresee is that the forthcoming polls might be sur-rounded by cold like ‘winter’ and an environment created to make the polls look cold and people losing interest to vote,” says Shibuda.
Touching on the 2000 polls in which many people turned up to vote, Shibuda says, “when there is the spirit of joy among groups of voters touched by the benefit of the good service of a government, the public automatically get motivated to turn up to vote.”