Tanzania is holding its breath after the opposition rejected the outcome of elections, with its presidential candidate Edward Lowassa saying the polls had been rigged.
In a day of high political drama during which presidential results in the semi-autonomous region of Zanzibar were also nullified, Lowassa, the Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) presidential candidate, demanded the scrapping of the process and the halting of any further announcement of results.
He also wants the use of a manual tallying system in collating the results from the country’s constituencies, instead of an electronic system.
According to the opposition, there is evidence to show that the electronic system of tallying the results has been manipulated and that what National Electoral Commission (NEC) had announced was at variance with what had been submitted by the Opposition’s polling agents.
“We are telling the people of Tanzania that we will not accept the results of this election. We want the electoral body to stop announcing the results. What is being announced is not reflective of the will of the people of Tanzania,” said Lowassa, who spoke as results from NEC indicated that the ruling party’s presidential candidate had an unassailable lead in the elections.
Results from majority of the country’s 264 constituencies showed that Chama cha Mapinduzi’s (CCM) John Magufuli had floored his Lowassa by a significant margin.
Out of 195 constituencies declared by NEC by last evening, it was clear that Magufuli, 54, had won the election, against Lowassa, 63.
Magufuli had garnered 6,180,448 votes against Lowassa’s 4,254,492 votes, a difference that analysts said was too huge.
NEC has been announcing the results at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre and yesterday, it was garnering results from the remaining 68 constituencies, whose outcome would make little difference in the election that has been one of the most closely fought in Tanzania’s history.
Official results confirming Magufuli as the president are expected this morning.
“We are still asking for patience from Tanzanians. We are announcing results as we receive them,” said the Commission chairman Damian Lubavu.
There are already signs of celebrations in the capital, with scores of supporters carrying flags of the ruling party, which has been in power for the last 51 years.
But Lowassa claimed that the electoral commission had worked with the ruling party to manipulate the electoral process, whose transparency has also been questioned by observers from the European Union.
“The whole electoral process has been designed to favour the ruling party. But we are asking Tanzanians to remain calm,” said Lowassa.
“What is happening here is what is happening in Zanzibar, where the electoral commission has conspired to rob the opposition candidate of his victory,” he added.
Lowassa said since the results of the Zanzibar poll had been nullified, the same should happen in the mainland.
In Zanzibar, the chair of the Island’s elections body, Jecha Salim Jecha, announced the nullification of results, citing electoral irregularities.
But the ruling party said the Opposition was intent on throwing Tanzania into post-election chaos. The party’s NEC member January Makamba wondered why the opposition was only crying foul over presidential results and not parliamentary results, where it had made significant gains.
“We are surprised that they are willing to accept parliamentary results but not the presidential elections. Both elections were conducted by the same electoral commission. The opposition has the right to complain, but they have no right to lead the country down the path of chaos, he said, adding: “Peace in this country is more important than people’s personal interest. We ask all Tanzanians to continue with their lives and also perform their civic duty of maintaining peace in the country,” said Makamba.
But Lowassa claimed an independent tally had indicated that opposition had won the election by over 60 per cent. He added that the ruling party has employed intimidation tactics to ensure the results do not count.
“Our people have been intimidated. The raid on our tallying centres was specifically designed to enable the ruling party and the electoral commission tamper with the results,” he said.