One day after the National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) presidential candidate John Magufuli as the winner of the October 28 election, two main opposition parties in Tanzania, Chadema and ACT-Wazalendo, have come forward to reject the results, vowing not to recognize Mr Magufuli as the legitimate winner of the highly controversial Wednesday polls.
In a joint press conference at Chadema’s headquarters in Dar es Salaam today, October 31, 2020, the leaders of the two opposition parties claimed that what happened on October 28th was not an election but rather a sham and that they do not recognize anything that has to do with it. Chadema’s national chairperson Mr Freeman Mbowe, while reading the joint statement by the parties, said:
“Jointly, we believe that what happened on October 28, 2020, does not possess any quality or legitimacy of being called a free election. It was rather a forceful violation of Tanzanians’ fundamental rights of electing leaders that they want through democratic means. [The violation] was done deliberately by NEC and [the Zanzibar Electoral Commission] ZEC [and] security organs.”
CCM landslide victory
The opposition parties’ joint press conference came after NEC chairperson retired judge Semistocles Kaijage on Friday, October 30, 2020, declared Mr Magufuli the winner of Wednesday’s election with 12.51 million votes against 1.93 million for his main challenger, Chadema’s Tundu Lissu.
NEC’s announcement came hardly one day after ZEC chairperson retired Chief Justice Hamid Mahmood Hamid on October 30, 2020, announced CCM presidential candidate for Zanzibar Dr Hussein Mwinyi with 76.27 per cent against 19.87 per cent garnered by his top challenger Mr Seif Sharif Hamad of ACT-Wazalendo. Apart from the presidential election, CCM has so far also recorded a significant win for parliamentary seats and ward councillors.
But in their joint declaration, Chadema and ACT-Wazalendo point out that the victory announced by both NEC and ZEC is illegitimate. Mr Mbowe said: “Now, with that in mind, we are calling for an election rerun as soon as possible. Secondly, we demand the dissolving of NEC and ZEC and the formation of completely new electoral bodies [that will replace them and] supervise the repeated election.”
Mr Mbowe, who run as Chadema parliamentary candidate for Hai constituency and lost, said that the two parties will lead their members and supporters across the country in the nationwide, peaceful and indefinite demonstration from Monday, November 2, 2020, to pressurise authorities to work on their demands. He said: “We call upon regional and international institutions, partner countries and the international community in general not to recognize what is called the October 28th general election and hold accountable all those responsible for tampering with the electoral process.”
Claims of possible voter fraud
Opposition parties and some observers of October 28 polls have criticised the manner with which the election was organised, saying it was marred with massive irregularities. Some of the issues that critics point to do defend their claims that the election was not free and fair include detentions of candidates and protesters, repeat voting, pre-filling of ballots and wide-spread blocking of social media and other communications platforms.
The U.S Embassy in Tanzania, for example, said in a statement on October 29, 2020, that it has found the allegations made by opposition parties, civil society groups and election observers of voter fraud and intimidation credible. “We urge Tanzania authorities to work with all stakeholders to fully and immediately address these concerns in a transparent manner,” said the Embassy.
But NEC’s Kaijage dismissed the allegations as false and asked Tanzanians to ignore them. Quoted by The Citizen newspaper, Kaijage said: “There is information going around of boxes with fake ballots seized at Kawe (Dar es Salaam), Pangani (Tanga) and Buhigwe (Kigoma). These allegations have not been substantiated and are not mentioning exactly which centres the votes were found. The information has not yet been reported to NEC. The commission, therefore, calls upon all citizens to ignore because they are baseless.”
The East African Community Mission for Election Observation in Tanzania also said that the NEC had “organised the elections in a professional manner,” the Mission’s chairperson former president of Burundi Sylvestre Ntibantunganya said in a statement released yesterday. “Generally, the Mission is of the view that the Election process was conducted in a credible manner.”