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Wanted: electoral system that's totally blame-free

Friday October 30 2020
electoral pic

Voting in the latest multiparty elections – the sixth in the quinquennial series – was conducted in Tanzania on Wednesday, October 28, 2020. The voting exercise was conducted in relative calm and good order, generally speaking.

This is, of course, bar the occasional differences here, there and over there within society in general – whereby the differences are mostly rooted in personal or partisan inclinations across the political divide.

But, while vote-casting may have been over on Wednesday as scheduled, it virtually goes without saying that the electoral dust has not quite settled fully on the elections that involved both sides of the United Republic: Zanzibar and Mainland Tanzania.

To be precise, the elections were intended to come up with the Union and Zanzibar presidents, MPs, members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives and councillors.

It was to this noble end that the election organisers and related stakeholders updated the Permanent Voters Register, bringing the latest number of registered potential/prospective Union voters to a healthy 29,188,347: an estimated 49 percent of the population. The organisers also set up 80,155 polling posts on the Mainland.

Managing the electoral processes was spearheaded by the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for the Union-cum-Mainland elections, and the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) for the elections in the Isles across the Zanzibar Channel.

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As already noted herein above, polling was on the whole peaceful, relatively speaking. This was not particularly surprising – especially taking into account the fact that Tanzanians have been peaceable people down the ages.

Frightening moments

But, this does not mean that there were no frightening moments, heart-rending developments before, during and after polling day ... and even as we await final results.

Indeed, the elections were to a certain degree marred by accusations of fraud from different quarters.

A mere days to polling day, for example, the political opposition spread word about ballot boxes being illegally stuffed with fake votes in favour of the ruling party CCM – and that the electoral authorities were making it difficult to accredit thousands of opposition election observers whose mandate was to ensure that the elections are conducted fairly and freely.

Electoral authorities denied the ballot stuffing claim, and promised they would do whatever is in their ability to conduct free and fair elections.

There were indeed other claims which tended to suggest that Tanzanian elections had a number of irregularities.

We, therefore, seriously believe that there is a real need for the government and its related institutions, as well as other political stakeholders, to revisit Tanzania’s electoral processes and systems as a whole.

This is with a view to overhauling the whole electoral kit and caboodle – not only to make Tanzanian elections free, fair and democratic on a sustainable basis, but to also ensure that elections are so seen across the board by all and sundry.

In other words, what Tanzanians rightly want on the ground is an electoral system of processes that is totally free of any blame; one that would raise higher the bar of Integrity on Tanzanian elections by making them more transparent, fair and free.