Intelligence Analysis: Top Tanzanian Dons Declare 2020 Elections 'Not Free and Fair.'

Intelligence Analysis: Top Tanzanian Dons Declare 2020 Elections 'Not Free and Fair.'
In the 2020 vote in Tanzania, deceased President John Magufuli (L) went head to head with Tundu Lissu
Dar es Salaam. The 2020 General Election did not have a level playing ground, affecting the participation of opposition parties, a report has revealed.
The report of the Research and Education for Democracy in Tanzania (Redet) under the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Dar es Salaam, gave the revelation after its launch yesterday following a review on previous elections in all regions with 2,353 observers.
Commenting on the October 2020 polls, the Redet chairman, Prof Rwekaza Mukandala, noted various factors that emerged in the election, including lack of a modest environment.
“Opposition parties did not fare well in the last election and the competition was not balanced, it was not fair, so, to some extent it affected the competition and the participation of opposition parties,” said Prof Mukandala.
Prof Mukandala explained that the competition depended on the resources to compete, yet in the last election, he said the opposition parties did not have enough resources.
He noted that in the 2015 elections, there were posters of candidates from other parties, something that was not the case in last year’s elections as most of the candidates in the opposition were not able to afford them.
“This is because they did not have the financial muscles to put up the posters to be seen or have brochures. Most of the candidates did not hold rallies, they were waiting for the last days or when their presidential candidate passed by,” he said.
The chairman said in the past several steps had been taken to ensure that the parties received subsidies that enabled them to conduct campaigns fully but in the last election, it did not happen. He noted that at various stages of voting, corruption was rampant in the field, and he advised the parties to ensure that their process of finding candidates is free and fair in the future.
On the issue of candidates being disqualified due to shortcomings in the way they filled in the election forms, Prof Mukandala said the matter was complex because, according to the Constitution, the main criterion for a candidate to run for office was by being a Tanzanian citizen. “In the future, people should not be discriminated against just because of small mistakes like having written a wrong date, let’s follow the constitution,” he said.
Initially opening the conference, Deputy Vice Chancellor- Research, Prof Bernadetha Kilian said universities were key stakeholders in monitoring what was going on in the community, so participating in election observation was a part of their culture. She said the college enabled Redet to carry out its core responsibilities in the election, a move that also enabled women to participate in democratic activities through specialized training.
“Redet and Temco reports provide students with reading skills and references during their studies. We thank the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and ZEC for their co-operation,” said Prof Kilian.
For his part Dr Audax Kweyamba said the report highlighted the key issues that emerged in the last election and that there was a need to ensure that the recommendations made were implemented for improvement in the next elections.


Brief intelligence analysis by Evarist Chahali

Why it matters?

REDET is highly respected academic research body not just in Tanzania but across Africa too. This report about the 2020 elections is quite authoritative. Although it is long overdue, the report had no chance to bee made public during late Magufuli's despotic era.

How has the public reacted?

Largely like nothing happened.

The story appearing on an English newspaper, The Citizen, may have also made majority of Tanzanians, who are not fluent in the language, to have not noticed it. However, the story coincided with other significant developments  on the day, namely petrol, diesel and kerosine price hikes, as well as ongoing power cuts and acute water shortage across the country.

How did the opposition react?

Zitto Kabwe, opposition ACT-Wazalendo Chief, retweeted and commented about the report.

However, overall ACT-Wazalendo's reaction was largely muted, understandably, because they are now taking part in the government of national unity in the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar, where electoral violance led to at least 14 deaths.

Major opposition party Chadema, on the other hand, were understandably occupied with the ongoing case against their national chairman Freeman Mbowe on economic sabotage and terrorism related charges.

Their 2020 presidential candidate, and national vice chairman, Tundu Lissu, did not comment about the report. However, he has of recently been not so active on social media, where he used to communicate his messages from Belgium where he currently lives. His latest tweet was on November 16.

The big picture

It is highly unlikely that the REDET report would encourage any legal action against the results of the election. Both Chadema and ACT-Wazalendo, the two main opposition parties in Tanzania, are not well-placed to start a legal fight over last year elections' results. As stated earlier, the former are preocuppied with Mbowe's case which they believe is politically-motivated, while the later are part of the GNU in Zanzibar, hence they in principle cannot contest against the elections which essentially have elevated them to the governance of the Isles.

However, the report is a significant development, not only in putting on record about what happened in the East African country's 2020 elections, in which the now-deceased John Magufuli essentially stole the ballot, but also underscores gradual return to freedom of expression, academic in this case, which shed a positive on President Samia Suluhu Hassan's relatively new government.