The way people are allowed to freely express themselves during campaign rallies and at the ballot, are the major hallmarks of a free and transparent election. This also goes a long way in strengthening democracy and governance in a country.
Over the years, Tanzania has won accolades for her democratic credentials. The East African country even contributed in the liberation struggles of sister countries from the jaws of colonialism.
That Tanzania has been used as a base to try perpetrators of violence in Rwanda and also acts as the seat of East African Commission speaks volumes of the respect it commanded at the community of nations.
However, this image of a citadel of democracy is being tarnished by reports of aggravated violence as 29 million Tanzanians prepare to cast their votes to determine whether President John Magufuli deserves a second chance or should be replaced by any of the 15 other candidates on October 28.
As campaigns enter the homestretch, there are reports of violence meted out on some candidates, especially women who have been brutalised and denied a chance to campaign. Earlier, a number of candidates were disenfranchised after they were disqualified from contesting. An attack on any candidate is a blot on democracy and the National Electoral Commission of Tanzania should act decisively to safeguard the legitimacy of the polls and ensure the results are acceptable to winners and losers. The consequences of disputed elections are too grim to contemplate and Tanzania should avoid that part at all costs. No lives should be sacrificed at the altar of political brinkmanship.