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Zanzibar result annulled as Tanzanian public awaits tight result

The Zanzibar results have been annulled in the Tanzanian election due to alleged election malpractices.

Reasons for the cancellation given by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) include: Interference by political parties, vote rigging in some regions, improper protection of ballots, some party agents being kicked out of polling stations, youths raiding polling stations, electoral commissioners engaging in fist fights, partisan commissioners and votes being cast in some polling stations were more than the registered voters.

The incumbent president and the cabinet will however remain in power for three months. Edward Lowassa who is the opposition candidate in the UKAWA alliance wants the entire election in Tanzania also nullified citing irregularities. He claims the situation is Zanzibar impacts the situation on the mainland.

Electoral commissions and arrests

The two commissions, Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) and Tanzania National Electoral Commission (NEC), are working together. UKAWA has claimed that these organisations have made the same mistakes alleging that they are stealing votes electronically. One particular allegation is that the commissioners are making against the National Electoral Commission of Tanzania is tampering with figures in favour of the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).

NEC Chairman – Damian Lubuva – has however rejected these allegations. He says his commission has been forthright in handling the whole election process and the election has not been stolen. The chair has given evidence of scanned results forms with signatures – both from CCM and UKAWA – party agents before the results were brought to the NEC Centre at the Julius Nyerere Convention Centre.

The UKAWA coalition further cites that the police raided the independent UKAWA tallying centre. Eight communication officers from the CHADEMA party have been arrested and charged with issuing inaccurate and unverified presidential results.

The police have confiscated computers and other electronic equipment. UKAWA supporters claimed that before the police walked away with equipment, they were leading by 60 per cent in most regions. Meanwhile another 183 CHADEMA officials arrested on Monday have been released from police custody. They were also allegedly charged with publishing unofficial presidential results.

International observers

Election observer groups have also released preliminary findings on the Tanzanian polls. The European Union (EU) says there was no transparency in the two electoral commissions. However, the EU noted that elections were well organised and tightly contested.

On the contrary, observer missions from the Africa Union (AU) and South African Development Countries (SADC) have endorsed the elections saying they have been free, credible, transparent and fair.

Generally the three observer missions have recommended that the laws that constitute an electoral body be changed to model around a credible independent body, not one appointed by the president.

Vote counting is still underway. Results from 116 out of the 264 constituencies have so far been tallied and results released by the Tanzanian National Electoral Commission. This exercise is expected to come to an end within the next 48 hours.

Since independence in 1961, Tanzania has never had such a tightly contested election. Once all constituency results have been received and announced by NEC, president Jakaya Kiwete will hand over power to the new president. All former Tanzanian presidents have respected their two term limits unlike some other African nations which have sometimes changed laws to increase presidential term limits.

Words by Maren Okoth

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