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Tanzania: 2010 General Elections Roundup

Tanzanians will go to the polls on 31 October 2010 to elect the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, President of Zanzibar, Members of Parliament and Members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives. This is a roundup of blog posts about the elections.

Tom Rhodes reports that the Tanzanian government has threatened the press ahead of the elections:

Whether the Tanzanian press feel at liberty to cover this tight race is another matter. Critical reporting on the government during this sensitive time appeared risky after Ministry of Information Permanent Secretary Sethi Kamuhanda toured print media offices earlier this month, threatening to shutter any media house that “put the government in a bad light,” state television reported. More than 50 human rights and media organizations issued a joint statement last week, claiming the government has threatened the press in advance of the forthcoming elections.

Since polling began, the Registrar of Newspapers, a government-run licensing agency, has been busy issuing letters to newspapers, warning against any negative coverage of the government, local journalists told CPJ. Three private weeklies, Mwanahalisi, Raia Mwena, and Tanzania Daima have all been warned by the Registrar to avoid coverage deemed “inciteful” by the government or face suspension.

“Such kinds of threats have been common from the Registrar of Newspapers, whom the minister [of information] uses as a means to enforce self-censorship,” the chairman of the Tanzania Editors’ Forum, Absalom Kibanda, told me.

The country's leading Kiswahili daily, Mwananchi, received two letters from the Registrar recently threatening to suspend the paper for negative government coverage, Managing Editor Theophil Makunga told me.

ZanziBits says that the absence of violence in 2010 election campaigns in Zanzibar shows that people have embraced democracy:

In past election years, there was political violence in Zanzibar as people prepared for the elections, but not this time. All of the campaigning has been peaceful and secure.
These are good signs for our country, because it shows that our people are embracing democracy and becoming involved in the political process.

Campaigning officially ends on October 30. On October 31, the Tanzanian people will choose their new leader. We all hope that it is someone who is fairly elected and who will bring development to our country. Above all, we all hope that our elections are as peaceful as the campaigns have been.
God bless Tanzania and its islands.

Labda Hata Mimi writes about Tanzania election and the growing tech community:

There is now an Ushahidi Election Violence, Issue and Rioting Reporting Map instance up for the Tanzanian elections taking place next Sunday. You can also apply as an ushahidi voluntia translator and verifier at this Google Form. As of last week, one of four polls suggests opposition may have an edge. I do not take a position for any party in the elections but I do hope that they are carried out peacefully. I especially hope that my friends in country, Watanzania and Wamerikani alike, are safe. (As Pernille points out, UCHAGUZI is a collaborative initiative between TACCEO, Tanzania; HIVOS, Netherlands; Haki Elimu , Tanzania; the biggest Tz national ICT community Jamii Forums, Tanzania; Rakesh Rajani’s TWAWEZA , CRECO, Kenya in association with USHAHIDI and SODNET, Kenya as technology & strategy partners.

Pernille announces
the launch of Uchaguzi Tanzania:

UCHAGUZI, TZ is a platform that leverages on USHAHIDI's web and mobile-based technology software, enabling unprecedented collaboration between election observers and citizens to monitor elections in near-real time.

Check it out now – the Tanzania elections are on Sunday, and it will be interesting to see how the crow-sourching tool will boost information in this regard.

Kenyan blogger, Chris, asks, “Will there be trouble in Tanzania after election?”:

On Sunday Kenya’s next door neighbours, Tanzania go to the polls. The reality on the ground is that the Tanzanians have been watching with great interest and then envy as Kenya has gone through a very eventful two years or so. Tanzanians are now asking why ordinary folks in their country cannot be like Kenyans who to them appear to be very much aware of their rights and willing to fight for them.

I was shocked beyond words recently when I overheard ordinary Tanzanians in a Dar-es-salaam surburb discussing Sunday’s polls and saying that it would be a good idea to stock up in food and stay indoors, expecting the worst.

He continues:

To most Kenyans (like the guys who never miss an opportunity to spew tribal hatred in this blog) it would be mighty difficult to understand Tanzanian politics. Tribalism hardly exists in this country that is almost the size of both Kenya and Uganda put together and boasts of over 140 tribes (to Kenya’s 40 something). Neither is there a history of certain tribes reigning supreme over others. The one man who must take the most credit for this unity that is rare to find in any African country is the founding father the late Mwalimu Julius Kabarage Nyerere. While Kenya’s Tom Mboya and Jomo Kenyatta prided themselves in national symbols based on strong animals like the lion, Nyerere quietly chose the unassuming Giraffe. And there is plenty of proof in the man’s life that he was able to see extremely far into the horizon so much so that he still holds great sway even from the grave. Nyerere unified the country by aggressively adopting the Swahili language into the fabric and way of life of Tanzanians.

Jerry Okungu advises Tanzanians not to fall into Kenya's trap of election violence:

Three different newspapers published in Dar es Salaam cannot be wrong especially if one of them, the oldest, belongs to the CCM. They are all saying more-or-less the same thing; that there is uncertainty and anxiety in the air. They are all expressing fear that Bongoland’s elections may be rigged in favor of the ruling party based on the mood in the country that seems to be craving for regime change in the land of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.

Signs that all is not well are clearly brought out in the latest opinion results conducted by Research and Education in Democracy in Tanzania(REDET), a state owned research center housed at the University of Dar es Salaam, Synovate of Kenya and several online surveys conducted by Daily News, Uhuru Publications and ThisDay newspaper published by Reginald Mengi’s outfit.

In the run-up to the Kenyan elections in 2007, we had a similar scenario where opinion polls became the centre of vicious debates, claims and counter claims of doctored results depending on who or which party was favored or dismissed by the polls. Whenever an opinion poll favored PNU, other parties and their supporters dismissed it as cooked. On the other hand, if another pollster published results that favored ODM, other players routinely dismissed it as bogus.

VijanaFM blog lists technology initiatives that revolve around people-to-people reporting on election issues:

A few weeks ago we told you we started TZelect, an Ushahidi-based platform that aims to collect and discuss reports from East African youth about election events.

Recently we were contacted by a few organizations who have put together a similar platform, Uchaguzi Tanzania, which allows for reports to be sent in via SMS.

Both TZelect and Uchaguzi Tanzania are focussed on the immediete elections being held in Tanzania on October 31st of this year, as well as the long-term progress of elected candidates in office.

However, while Uchaguzi Tanzania is built to accomodate hour-to-hour updates from the general public on the ground in Tanzania, TZelect is built to collect continuous, analytical discussions about these election events, specifically from youth.

An American in Tanzania writes about her experience at a political rally for the main opposition party, Chadema:

On Thursday afternoon I attended a Chadema (Chama Cha Demokracia na Maendeleo, or Party of Democracy and Development) political rally for Doctor Slaa, the most popular opposition presidential candidate on the mainland. Despite the fact that he never showed up (TIA, right?) and that I only understood about 40% of what various candidates yelled crazy-African-preacher-style over the loudspeaker, it was a really interesting and enlightening experience. I made friends with two high school teachers and we discussed (in Swahili!) the election, the history of Tanzania, and the platforms and promises of various parties and candidates.

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