About 29 million Tanzanians, the highest number ever in the history of our nation, are registered voters. How many will get out to vote in a country’s general election on Oct 28? Time will tell, but it is the civic duty, a patriotic duty, to get out and vote. Through our votes, we choose our political leaders for the coming five years. It is one thing to have a big number of registered voters and another when it comes to how many would actually go and vote. The very reason we must all encourage one another to use this constitutional right.
We should have in mind the fact that the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for the Union and the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) are some of the most important bodies in the dear motherland. The two bodies are tasked with the huge responsibility of seeing to it that they deliver credible, fair and transparent elections for legitimate results.
As only two days remain, it is everybody’s hope that they would iron out all the shortcomings that have being pointed out so far by all stakeholders.
Of the most important tasks (among others) by NEC and ZEC, is voter registration, supervising and conducting presidential, parliamentary and councillors’ election. The chairman of either body will announce the winner of the presidential election, and the decision is final, it cannot be challenged in court, which is a pity.
The two bodies have been using the media extensively to try and educate Tanzanians about their roles as voters, and why it is important for every registered voter to get out and vote.
NEC chairman Judge Semistocles Kaijage is a man of law, and back in 2016, when he took the oath of office; he promised that he would be impartial. Hence, his greatest test has arrived.
This is a stand he has reiterated in the recent past. NEC under him has been emphatic about voter education, championing for the citizen to be equipped with the necessary information to enable them to participate in the Presidential, Parliamentary and Councillors’ election.
NEC works hand in hand with civil society--even though a number of such groups have been left out of the process--to provide voter education and encourage women and youth not to be left behind. Now the D-day is coming, NEC and ZEC, what remains is for voters to get out and vote and for the bodies to declare the rightful winners of their victories--fairly and transparently.
It is our anticipation that the tallying process will be transparent and that the election watchers representing various parties would all be treated with dignity and allowed to undertake their duty without any hurdles.
It’s my prayer that those who win will accept their victory with humility and those who lose will accept their defeat with grace.
It is important that after the campaigns; politicians should not make inflammatory remarks. We should have trust in our constitution and allow NEC and ZEC to carry out responsibility vested to them.
One of the best things NEC has done is to allow voters, who may not have their cards, to use alternative IDs, including National ID, passport or driving licence. This is a good sign--to the best of my understanding.
For every political leader in the ballot at whatever position, let me reiterate humility and grace accepting the results are important.
A Ghanaian writer, Israelmore Ayivor once wrote that “everyone has this self-leadership quality” and that “leadership is not restricted to position and age; it is self-made and influential.”
He makes the case of a young child being “a leader to an elderly person.”
May God bless Tanzania and make politicians know they can always serve Tanzanians in or out of elective offices. Peace be upon our beloved nation. May justice, fairness and transparency in the electoral process rule!
Saumu Jumanne is an Assistant Lecturer, Dar es Salaam University College of Education (DUCE)