FREEMAN Mbowe, the leader of opposition in Tanzania, said his party, CHADEMA, was determined to defeat all attempts of systemic rigging carried out by the National Election Commission (NEC) and the government which, he said, were working in favour of the ruling CCM.
Tanzanians will be voting for the president, parliamentarians and councillors on 28th October 2020.
Mbowe told the media on Saturday afternoon that his party will concede defeat only if the NEC behaves impartially and if CHADEMA candidates are fairly defeated. He made a strong regarding the manner in which the party expects its polling agents to be treated by the electoral commission.
Hinting on reports that the electoral commission was planning to disqualify the opposition’s polling agents, he said:
“Our party’s polling agents must be duly sworn in as the law stipulates. Short of that, we will strongly protest. Our agents must be provided with identity letters. Short of that, we will protest. Our agents must be freely allowed into the polling stations. Short of that, we shall protest. Our agents must be provided with copies of all election results at the polling stations. Short of that, we shall take stern action.”
In past elections, the electoral commission has been unfairly disqualifying the opposition parties’ polling agents in order to give exclusive access to the agents of the ruling party, making it easy to announce the results that are favourable to CCM.
On several occasions, the opposition presidential candidate, Tundu Lissu, has been saying, on the campaign trail, that his party is all out for a strong victory, and that any attempt to rig the election will be answered by severe consequences.
But his statement provoked a counter-reaction from the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro and NEC’s Director for Elections William Charles Mahera who strongly condemned Lissu, on the grounds that his statement was threatening the country’s peace and stability.
It is understood that the opposition does not trust the electoral commission due to its partisan conduct. Mbowe said that due to NEC’s outright favouritism to CCM, it had already disqualified 36 parliamentary candidates, an unfair treatment that allowed 36 CCM candidates to “win unopposed.” The same applies to 577 candidates of district council positions.
Mbowe said CCM was desperate, attempting to cling to power by using state machinery, by forcing civil servants, school children to attend political rallies of its candidate, as well as using police to arbitrarily arrest opposition candidates. Some of whom were being brutally tortured by police, he said.
Despite all this, he said, his party was certain of winning the presidential votes by 65-70 per cent.