Tanzania 2020 elections were neither free nor fair, says Redet

An elderly voter casts her ballot at Wazo Hill polling station in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, on October 28, 2020. PHOTO FILE|  AFP 

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  • Mukandala noted that at various stages of voting, corruption was rampant in the field, and he advised the parties to ensure that their process of finding candidates is free and fair in the future

Dar es Salaam. The 2020 General Election did not have a level playing ground, affecting the participation of opposition parties, a report has revealed.

The report of the Research and Education for Democracy in Tanzania (Redet) under the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Dar es Salaam, gave the revelation after its launch yesterday following a review on previous elections in all regions with 2,353 observers.

Commenting on the October 2020 polls, the Redet chairman, Prof Rwekaza Mukandala, noted various factors that emerged in the election, including lack of a modest environment.

“Opposition parties did not fare well in the last election and the competition was not balanced, it was not fair, so, to some extent it affected the competition and the participation of opposition parties,” said Prof Mukandala.

Prof Mukandala explained that the competition depended on the resources to compete, yet in the last election, he said the opposition parties did not have enough resources.

He noted that in the 2015 elections, there were posters of candidates from other parties, something that was not the case in last year’s elections as most of the candidates in the opposition were not able to afford them.

“This is because they did not have the financial muscles to put up the posters to be seen or have brochures. Most of the candidates did not hold rallies, they were waiting for the last days or when their presidential candidate passed by,” he said.

The chairman said in the past several steps had been taken to ensure that the parties received subsidies that enabled them to conduct campaigns fully but in the last election, it did not happen. He noted that at various stages of voting, corruption was rampant in the field, and he advised the parties to ensure that their process of finding candidates is free and fair in the future.

On the issue of candidates being disqualified due to shortcomings in the way they filled in the election forms, Prof Mukandala said the matter was complex because, according to the Constitution, the main criterion for a candidate to run for office was by being a Tanzanian citizen. “In the future, people should not be discriminated against just because of small mistakes like having written a wrong date, let’s follow the constitution,” he said.

Initially opening the conference, Deputy Vice Chancellor- Research, Prof Bernadetha Kilian said universities were key stakeholders in monitoring what was going on in the community, so participating in election observation was a part of their culture. She said the college enabled Redet to carry out its core responsibilities in the election, a move that also enabled women to participate in democratic activities through specialized training.

“Redet and Temco reports provide students with reading skills and references during their studies. We thank the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and ZEC for their co-operation,” said Prof Kilian

For his part Dr Audax Kweyamba said the report highlighted the key issues that emerged in the last election and that there was a need to ensure that the recommendations made were implemented for improvement in the next elections.