Tanzania: Lissu airs fears, claims government plans to rig poll

CHADEMA flagbearer Tundu Lissu. [File, Standard]

Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) flagbearer Tundu Lissu has claimed that there is scripted move to rig the Tanzanian presidential election set for Thursday, October 28.

Lissu told Standard Digital that the government has activated plans to use the state security agencies to rig the elections in favour of President John Magufuli of the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). According to Lissu, the elections are already flawed.

“Tomorrow’s polls are heavily rigged. The entire government system is heavily involved in the rigging. [Those involved are] local and regional administration, police and intelligence agencies and even the military,” he said.

Despite having mounted serious campaigns, marshalling following and serving a statement of intent; the former Singida East MP said victory is never guaranteed for him with status quo.

He said that his party could only be assured of resounding victory if all the electoral protocols are considered for transparency.

“If we’re able to place polling agents in polling stations across the country; if the polling agents are able to monitor the polling without hindrance; if the agents can obtain returns of their polling stations in good time; and if the people maintain high levels of vigilance during polling and counting, then I’m confident we’ll handily defeat Magufuli,” he said.

Zanzibar chaos

Earlier today, voting began in the island of Zanzibar where Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) targeted special groups, among them security officers to cast their votes.

Chaos erupted in the island as police used teargas to disperse locals who expressed their dissatisfaction with the handling of the electoral process. The fracas witnessed on Tuesday morning also came with the arrest of ACT-Wazalendo party leader Maalim Seif, who was picked after he had gone to vote. But a Tanzanian media reported that Mjini Magharibi Police Commander Awadh Haji refuted the reports on Mr Seif’s arrest.

“We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Maalim Seif and a cessation of repression by the security forces. We support the Zanzibari people’s struggles for democracy,” Lissu said.

Lissu is to challenge incumbent President John Magufuli of CCM in a presidential contest after returning from overseas earlier this year.

Tomorrow’s election comes at a time that the international community closely monitors the affairs of Tanzania.

This is after a study by Amnesty International faulted Magufuli’s regime for massive civil rights violation, intimidation, political arrests and detention, media blackmail and social media clampdown.

The United Nations, foreign envoys and regional observers have called for a free, fair and peaceful election.

UN statement

A UN statement issued on Monday on behalf of Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that safeguarding the East African country can make tremendous steps into the circles of democracy by safeguarding voting rights and integrity of the polls.  

The UN boss also called on political leaders and their supporters to participate in the elections peacefully and to refrain from violent incidents.

Foreign envoys in Tanzania

US ambassador to Dar Donald Wright posted on Twitter expressing his concerts of the violence that rocked parts of Zanzibar. He also lamented the disregard for human rights in the country.

Mr Wright noted that it was not too late to prevent more bloodshed urging security forces to refrain from using excessive force.

Tanzania Elections watch

Meanwhile, the Polls Watch has written to the National Electoral Commission of Tanzania calling for the assurance for free, fair and credible elections.

‘’We call upon the NEC to ensure that the elections are carried out in a manner that inspires public confidence and that the voting, results tallying and transmission process is transparent and accountable,’’ the statement read.