Tanzanian general election is on this Wednesday, 28 October 2020. #TellMagufuli With the recent clampdown on Civil Society, we need to keep our eyes open to ensure free and fair elections #TanzaniaFREE. There has been a lot of concern about the safety and fairness of this election because of how civil society and media have been treated in what many see as a move to silence the people of Tanzania. The world is putting attention to Tanzania’s President, John Pombe Magufuli, on how he will make this a Free and Fair Elections. Here are some of the things we have seen. #TanzaniaFREEFree and Fair Elections in Tanzania: President Magufuli's Biggest Test #TanzaniaFREE #TellMagufuli Click To Tweet
Tanzanian Army Among The Most Powerful Army in Africa
Should foreigners meddle in Tanzania’s for free and fair elections?
“Calling for free, fair, and credible elections is not meddling in Tanzania’s politics, it is simply standing up for the simple yet fundamental aspiration shared by all people, Americans and Tanzanians alike: to have their voices heard, especially when it comes to choosing who will lead and represent them.”— United States Ambassador to Tanzania Donald Wright
“We believe that the Tanzanian government and people have the wisdom and capability to organize the election. We wish that the election will be held smoothly and successfully. Non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs should be a basic principle for all countries to follow.”— Mr Zhao Lijian Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson
Clampdown on Media and Expression
12 June 2020: Registrar of Political Parties Registrar writes to opposition party ACT-Wazalendo asking the party’s leader to clarify reports in a government-affiliated newspaper Jamvi la Bahari that its leader Zitto Kabwe held talks with Sarah Cooke, the British High Commissioner in Tanzania.
23 June 2020: Government Spokesperson bans banned the printing and distribution of Tanzania Daima newspaper in Tanzania and outside the country for breaching the law and professional ethics. The newspaper, whose majority shareholder is the wife of Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe, had previously been banned for 90 days in 2017 on allegations of publishing false information.
6 July 2020: Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority suspends Kwanza TV, an online television network, for 11 months for generating and disseminating “biased, misleading and disruptive content…” after it published a health alert from the US Embassy. The regulator had suspended the station for six months on 27 September 2019 for “airing misleading information”.
10 August 2020: TCRA summons the management of Radio Free Africa (RFA)’s for questioning after airing a BBC interview with opposition chief Tundu Lissu.
27 August 2020: TCRA suspends Clouds TV and Clouds FM Radio for seven days after they announced results of some political party primaries without NEC approval.
*Over a dozen Tanzanian media outlets have been shut down in the past five years.
“These sanctions against independent media constitute attacks on freedom of expression and undermine the process of a transparent and credible election.”
–Panel of Eminent Persons, Tanzania Election Watch
19 May 2020: Police arrest popular Tanzanian comedian Idris Sultan after a video clip of him laughing at a throwback photo of President Magufuli went viral on social media. He was released on 27 May on a police bond of 15 million Tanzanian shillings (about $6,550). Idris Sultan has been in court at least four times to answer trumped-up charges of “failure to register a SIM card”.
23 June 2020: Police arrest Zitto Kabwe, leader of opposition party ACT-Wazalendo along with seven party members on allegations of “unlawful assembly” while attending an internal party meeting.
6 July 2020: Police arrest Nusrat Hanje, Secretary-General of Chadema’s national youth wing, known as Baraza la Vijana wa Chadema, the party’s mobilization coordinator, Twaha Mwaipaya, and five party members in Singida. They have been charged with illegal assembly, ridiculing the national flag and the national anthem, and conduct likely to cause a breach of the peace. Initially denied bail, the High Court in Dodoma granted them bail on appeal on 26 August 2020, but the police continue to detain them in violation of this court order.
11 July 2020: Police arrest Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda, the popular secretary of the Islamic Council in Tanzania, for circulating content alleged amount toincitement and breach of peace ahead of the 2020 elections. Sheikh Ponda was released on 21 July 2020 after 10 days in police detention and is in hiding after receiving threats of being re-arrested for his continued public discussions ofthe forthcoming elections.
14 August 2020: Police arrest Joseph Mbilinyi, aka Sugu, the incumbent parliamentary candidate for Mbeya Urban constituency, and accuse him of holding an unauthorised demonstration. A video clip shows he was arrested as his supporters peacefully accompanied him to collect his nomination forms from the regional NEC offices. He was later released.
Crackdown on Civil Society may prevent Free Elections in Tanzania
21 May 2020: NGOs Registrar gives the Inclusive Development for Citizens (IDC – Tanzania) 30 days to demonstrate why legal action should not be taken against them.
5 June 2020: NEC publishes regulations prohibiting international observers from commenting on any aspect of the elections until results are announced.
10 June 2020: Tanzania’s National Assembly amends 13 laws henceforthrequiring that claimants under the Basic Rights and Duties Enforcement Act to submit affidavits showing that violations have personally affected them.
23 June 2020: NEC stops the Tanzania Constitution Forum (TCF), the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC) and the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) from conducting election-related activities, including voter education and traininglawyers to handle election petitions.
24 June 2020: NGOs Registrar writes to several organizations asking for details of their activities, funding sources, and financial records, or face deregistration.
24 June 2020: Registrar suspends IDC for failing to provide its 2019 annual activity and financial audited reports, quarterly reports, funding contracts and strategic plans.
24 June 2020: Registrar gives the THRDC, a national coalition of over 160 organizations and individuals, seven days to explain why legal measures should not be taken against them for failing to provide copies of its members’ registration certificates and funding contracts with donors.
24 June 2020: Registrar orders the LHRC to suspend its election observation plans and to justify why they should not be deregistered for non-compliance with NGO laws.
18 August 2020: THRDC temporarily suspends its operations after the police order CRDB Bank to freeze its accounts, accusing them of entering into agreements with donors without consulting the Treasury and NGOs Registrar.
— Source: Amnesty International, Lawfare: Repression by Law ahead of Tanzania’s General Election
“NEC has denied some of the leading local human rights Civil Society Organizations such as the Tanzania Legal and Human Rights Centre, the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition and the Tanzania Constitution Forum (Jukwaa la Katiba) the right to observe the elections without explanation. The Panel also takes note of the exclusion of the Tanzania Episcopal Conference from the list of accredited observers.”
— Panel of Eminent Persons, Tanzania Election
Tanzania is No Country For Women
October 14, 2020: Police raid the office of Tarime Urban MP Esther Matiko, and manhandled her and her bodyguard. Video clips recorded during the incident show police attempting to arrest Ms. Matiko’s bodyguard. They did not introduce themselves. In the scuffle, one officer is captured on video groping Ms. Matiko from the back. Throughout the altercation, Ms. Matiko was heard demanding that the police explain the charges against her bodyguard to no avail.
October 12, 2020: Police reportedly violate, assault, and harass Ms. Catherine Ruge, the Chadema parliamentary candidate for Serengeti constituency while she was visiting the office of the National Electoral Commission (NEC). Ms. Ruge Tweeted that police officer, including one Captain Gerald, assaulted her, tore her clothes, and groped her. Ms. Ruge was admitted to the Musoma Hospital with injuries.
August 31, 2020: CCM chairperson for Tarime District Daudi Ngicho uses obscene language on stage during a campaign rally, calling Chadema parliamentary candidate for Tarime Urban Esther Matiko a “prostitute.” Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) denounced the remarks and issued a statement listing Kawe, Dar es Salaam and Kwimba, Mwanza as some of the constituencies whose female candidates had been verbally abused.
March 13, 2020: Former Chadema MPs Halima Mdee (Kawe), Ms. Ester Bulaya (Bunda Urban), and Special Seats MP Ms. Jesca Kishoa admitted to hospital after police beat them. Ms. Mdee and Ms. Bulaya were admitted to the Aga Khan Hospital, while Ms. Kishoa was seen at the Amana Hospital in Dar es Salaam. Police and Prison Services Guards attacked the three while at Segerea Maximum Security Prison, where they had accompanied the party’s national chairman, Mr. Freeman Mbowe, then in remand prison, as he walked to freedom.
Ms. Mdee and Ms. Bulaya were charged with trespassing the prison. The two, alongside 13 other Chadema members, were arraigned at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court in Dar es Salaam on March 23, 2020, to face seven criminal charges. The charges related to the incident which took place at Segerea Prison and they included disobedience of lawful order, unlawful assembly, malicious damage to property, using abusive language to prison officers, and assault.
Fears of Violent election in Zanzibar
Fears of widespread violence are rife in Tanzania’s semiautonomous archipelago, Zanzibar, as the state heavily deploys armed security across the islands ahead of the October 28 elections.
Zanzibar, a historic top tourist destination, is in focus as Tanzania goes into its 12th General Election since independence next week. Although Zanzibar has its own government and participates in governing the Mainland Tanzania, results for the archipelago’s 2015 elections were cancelled, and the repeat polls in March 2016 boycotted by the main opposition party. This means that Zanzibar’s electoral voice did not count in the election of current President John Pombe Magufuli.
Already, the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (Revolutionary Party) has reported that members of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party attacked two of its supporters, Khamis Nyange and Bakari Ali, with machetes as they prayed at Kangagi mosque in Pemba.
It is also alleged that CCM youth, with the help of police, attacked an ACT Wazalendo branch in Tutani (Mkombozi) and Barza Nuur in Nungwi in Zanzibar, tore down the party flag and replaced ACT Wazalendo campaign posters with CCM’s.
Zanzibar’s Civic United Front’sdirector of communication Abdul Kambaya claimed his party’s flags had been vandalized in various constituencies; while ACT-Wazalendo reports citizens being physically abused by Zanzibar Special Forces (Vikosi vya SMZ) in Pemba
Tanzania has always denied that it has a homegrown violent extremism problem. The reportedly high number of radicalized youth joining Al Shabaab and the insurgency in Mozambique that is loyal to the Islamic State. Poor management of elections on the Mainland and in the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba could drive dissatisfied youth into extremist recruiters. Although more than 99 percent of Zanzibar’s population is Muslim, the majority are Sunni of the Shafi school of jurisprudence who are considered moderates.
The rise in Violence may affect Free and Fair Elections in Tanzania
18 September: Chadema councilor candidate for Kibosho, Moshi Rural constituency, in Kilimanjaro, Gallus Chuwa abducted and forced to announce that he was withdrawing from the elections;
19 September: Simon Mwacham (Chadema) in Rundugai ward, Hai constituency, attacked by machetes by people alleged to be CCM supporters
20 September: NCCR Mageuzi party leader and parliamentary aspirant James Mbatia reports that party cadre by the name Mosha was attacked and his ear chopped off in the Vunjo area, where ward candidates were reportedly being attacked and forced to join CCM.
Alleged CCM youth, with the help of police, attack an ACT Wazalendo branch in Tutani (Mkombozi) and Barza Nuur in Nungwi in Zanzibar, and tear down the party flag and replace ACT Wazalendo campaign posters with CCM’s.
Chadema complains that its campaign posters vandalized and vehicles attacked by alleged CCM supporters in Arusha
An incident captured on video shows CCM supporters throwing stones at Chadema presidential candidate Tundu Lissu as he attends a campaign rally in Gymkhana Stadium in Bukoba, Kagera region
CCM reports that ACT-Wazalendo members attacked two of its supporters, Khamis Nyange (Profesa Gogo) and Bakari Ali, with machetes as they prayed at Kangagi mosque in Pemba, Wete district.
Kilimanjaro’s Regional Commissioner Anna Mghwira warns of increasing incidences of violence, which include abduction and physical abuse, with victims dumped in rivers and forests.
24 September: CUF Party Director of Communication Abdul Kambaya says his party’s flags had been vandalized in various constituencies; ACT-Wazalendo reports citizens being physically abused by Zanzibar Special Forces (Vikosi vya SMZ) in Pemba
25 September: ACT-Wazalendo also reports that Police are holding three party officials – Dotto Rangimoto, Dahlia Majid and Arodia Peter – after a raid at their headquarters in Magomeni.
“These acts of violence need to be deterred immediately to avoid catalyzing further violence as the election draws close. While we call on political parties, the security agencies and citizens to restrain themselves from actions that may undermine peace during and after the campaign period, we urge the commission to take action within its powers to deter the trend.”
— Panel of Eminet Persons, Tanzania Election Watch