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Tanzania: Bloggers Analyse Tanzania 2010 Election Campaigns

On 31 October 2010, more than 19.6 million Tanzanians will make an important decision for the future of their country. They will take part in the fourth general election since the introduction of multiparty democracy. With only a few days left before the polls, Tanzanian blogosphere is following closely election campaigns conducted by various political parties.

One of the controversial issues in this year’s campaigns, it seems, is that most of university students will not be able to vote. Senior Journalist Ndimara Tegambwage who blogs at Uhuru Hauna Kikomo [SW] writes about the issue:

…Maelfu ya wanafunzi wa vyuo vikuu vya serikali walijiandikisha kupiga kura pale vyuoni kwao. Wizara ilijua hilo. Tume ya Uchaguzi ilijua na kupanga hivyo. Wanafunzi walijua watakuwa vyuoni (kwa kawaida vyuo hufunguliwa mwishoni mwa mwezi wa Septemba au mwanzoni mwa mwezi wa Oktoba,lakini mwaka huu serikali imeamua kwamba vyuo vifunguliwe mwezi Novemba). Serikali kwa ujumla ilijua hilo …

…Thousands of students at state owned universities registered to vote at their universities. The Ministry knew that. Election Commission knew and organised it. Students thought that they would be at their universities (normally colleges open towards the end of September or early October, but this year the government has decided that colleges will start the semester in November). In general the government knew…

He goes on to explain what happens in other countries:

.. Katika baadhi ya nchi duniani, kuna mifumo ya kuhakikisha raia wake waishio ughaibuni, wanashiriki zoezi la uchaguzi huko watokako. Serikali huhakikisha kila kura inakusanywa.

.. in some other countries, there are systems to ensure that their citizens living abroad participate in elections taking place in their countries of origin. Governments collect all the votes.

And the he gives an advice to the students:

…Kuna kazi moja ambayo wanafunzi wanaweza kuifanya iwapo serikali haitabadili msimamo. Wabaki walipo. Wahimize wananchi kuamka mapema na kupiga kura. Wafanye uwakala wa vyama vyao…

… Students can do something if the government will not change its position. They should remain where they are. They should urge citizens to wake up early and vote. They should promote their parties…

Opinion Polls

Another interesting issue in these campaigns is how opinion polls were conducted. Three institutions conducted the polls. These are Research and Education for Democracy in Tanzania (REDET), Synovate as well as Tanzania Citizens Information Bureau (TCIB) (More information at Wavuti blog) [SW].

Results from REDET and Synovate were met with mixed reactions. Christian Bwaya blogging at Jielewe posted an article by Evarist Chahali who blogs at Kulikoni Ughaibuni. The article expresses suspicion that there might be rigging of the final vote and that REDET’s opinion poll results were preparing the ground for the impending vote-rigging:

…Wapiga kura wasianze kukata tamaa kuwa CCM wataiba kura … kwa mfano Dkt Slaa akipata asilimia 51 na Kikwete asilimia 49. Hapo watarejea uchakachuaji kama ule wa Zanzibar … Ni muhimu kutovunjwa moyo na hujuma hizi. Yatupasa kufahamu kuwa Kikwete na CCM yake ni kama mgonjwa mahututi ambaye yuko tayari hata kuning'inia kwenye uzi ili asalimike. Tutashuhudia vituko zaidi ya huo uchakachuaji wa REDET …

…Voters should not resign to the notion that CCM [Tanzania's ruling party] will steal their votes… for example if Dr. Slaa gets 51 perscent and Kikwete 41 percent. They will then resort to the vote-rigging similar to the one in Zanzibar… It is important that not to give up hope in the face of this sabotage. We should understand that Kikwete and his CCM are like a terminally ill patient who is ready to commit suicide to escape (the pain). We will witness more bizarre incidents than REDET’s…

There are those who have lost trust in REDET like Markus Mpangala who left a comment at Bwaya'sblog:

… ilipoanzishwa REDET sijawahi kusoma wala sitarajii kusoma tafiti zao … samahani mimi huwa siamini maoni hususani tafiti za namna hii … REDET wanatumia pesa kibao kutafiti eti fulani anaongoza … REDET ni mchezo wa rede au kombolela tu.

… Since REDET started I have never and do not anticipate reading their research… sorry I am an opinion polls sceptic especially opinion polls of this kind… REDET spend a lot of money to research who is leading… REDET is just a game like hide and seek.

Ansbert Ngurumo blogging at Utakapojua Hujui Ndipo Utakapojua [SW] writes about the Synovate opinion polls:

… Baada ya hapo alionyesha vielelezo vya utafiti uliofanywa na Synovate, ambao katika kipengele GPO 6 liliulizwa swali: “Kama uchaguzi ungefanyika leo, nani ungempigia kura ya urais?” – Synovate walikanusha kwamba swali hilo halikuwemo katika utafiti wao … ukweli ni uwa walifanya utafiti lakini CCM iliingiza ‘mkono’ wake baada ya kubaini kuwa matokeo hayo yalikuwa yanaonyesha Kikwete yuko nyuma ya Dkt Slaa …

… and then he [Dr. Wilbroad Slaa, the main opposition presidential candidate] produced data from Synovate’s research, in which there is a question in GPO 6: “if the election were held today, who would you vote to become the president?” – Synovate denied that there was not such a question in their survey… the truth is they conducted the survey but CCM interfered after realising that results showed that Kikwete was lagging behind Dr. Slaa…

Meanwhile, Haki writing for a blog called Food for Thought posted photos showing a famous businessman and CCM supporter, Mustapha Jaffar Sabodo with the following explanation:

Mfanyabiashara na mkereketwa wa CCM nchini, Mustapha Jaffar Sabodo, ametoa hundi ya shilingi milioni 100 na kumkabidhi Mwenyekiti wa Taifa wa Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA), Freeman Mbowe. Fedha hizo zimelenga kusaidia chama hicho ili kukamilisha kampeni.

A businessmana and CCM supporter Mustapha Jaffar Sabodo has donated a check worth 100 million Shillings and handed it to the National Chairman of Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA), Freeman Mbowe. The money is to assist the party to finalise the campaign.

Election Debates

One week before the general elections, there was a Q&A session broadcast through ITV. In that session Dr. Wilbrod Slaa, CHADEMA’s presidential candidate responded to questions direct from the people. Maggid Mjengwa, a journalist and blogger, wondered about the presidential ‘debate’:

… Kama ni mdahalo, basi ingekuwa ni vema na busara kwa wagombea wengine wa urais kushiriki. Bila shaka, wagombea wengine nao wana haki za msingi za kupewa nafasi kuelezea sera zao na kujibu maswali ya wapiga kura.

…If it was a debate, then it would have been wise and prudent for other presidential candidates to participate. Without a doubt, other candidates have a fundamental right to be given a chance to explain their policies and to respond to voter’s questions.

And then he informs us that CCM barred their candidates from participating in election debates:

…Hata kama chama tawala, CCM, kimeweka wazi kuwa mgombea wao hatashiriki mdahalo …

…Although the ruling party, CCM, has stated clearly that their candidate will not participate in the debate…

Photo journalist, Issa Michuzi, who runs one of the most read Swahili blogs both within and outside the country, follows the incumbent and CCM’s presidential candidate Mh Jakaya Kikwete campaign as well as his supporters. A title in one of his posts (with photos) says: JK Afunika Bovu Mlimba, Mahenge na Ifakara (meaning: JK conquers Mlimba, Mahenge and Ifakara).

UDADISI notices that one presidential candidate from the opposition seems to trouble CCM:

…It is quite clear that Dr Wilbrod Slaa's decision to run as a presidential candidate has tilted the balance of power. Now the debate is no longer about whether the ruling party's candidate [Jakay Kikwete] will get a landslide victory – as in the previous election. rather, it is about how much that victory will be cut.

In Zanzibar, there are signs that there will be peaceful elections especially after the agreement to form a Government of National Unity in the Isles. However, there are some nagging issues as described by Salma Said:

…SERIKALI ya Mapinduzi Zanzibar (SMZ) imekiri kwamba imeandikisha watu katika daftari la kudumu la wapiga kura wasiokuwa na sifa za kuandikishwa katika daftari hilo kutokana na sababu mbali mbali.

… The Government of Zanzibar (SMZ) has admitted that it has registered unqualified people in the voters register due to various reasons.

Apart from admitting that, the government also has admitted that Zanzibar Election Commission (ZEC) has employed ineligible electoral officers.

Kauli hiyo imetolewa na Mkuu wa Mkoa wa Kaskazini Pemba, Dadi Faki Dadi katika semina ya wakuu wa mikoa, makamanda, maafisa wadhamini, kamati za ulinzi na masheikh iliyofanyika kwenye ukumbi wa Elimu Mbadala Vitongoji Mkoa wa Kusini Kisiwani Pemba….

That statement has been issued by North Pemba Regional Commisioner, Dadi Faki Dadi during a seminar for regional commissioners, commanders, senior officers, security committees and Sheikhs that was held at Alternative Education Conference Hall in Vitongoji, South Pemba…

She goes on to caution Zanzibaris (and all Tanzanians in general):

…Waswahili wana msemo wanasema kwamba yashayopita sio ndwele tugange yanayokuja. Naam, nakubaliana na msemo huo lakini tukumbuke katika kuganga kunahitajika umahiri, ubunifu, ujuzi, uzoefu na busara za kutosha ili ndwele ile iliotokea nyuma isije ikajirejea tena…

Swahili people have a saying ‘what happened in the past is in the past, let us prevent the looming disease’. Yes, I agree with that saying but let us remember that it needs skills, creativity, knowledge, experience and enough wisdom to make sure that the disease we suffered in the past shall not inflict us again…

Fierce contest for the (Union) presidential seat is between Jakaya Kikwete from CCM, Wilbrod Slaa from CHADEMA and Ibrahim Lipumba from CUF. In Zanzibar, the contest is between Dr. Ali Mohamed Shein from CCM and Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad from CUF.

As a famous Swahili saying goes: Will Tanzanians decide to plait or to shave? We will find out after the elections.

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