Tanzania election was rigged, report confirms

THE Eminent Persons’ Tanzania Elections Watch (TEW) has released its final and conclusive report on the general election that took place on October 2020, giving a clear verdict that “it was neither free nor fair.”

The message is: “President John Magufuli rigged the 2020 election that gave him his second term in office.” The election was marred by enormous violence, intimidation and threats.

This report confirms the findings of the earlier, preliminary, election report that had said, “the election is not credible.”

The panel of 12 eminent persons from across Africa who formed the Tanzania Elections Watch (TEW) initiative, issued the final observation report on Thursday March 4, regarding the general election of the East African country, concluding that the election processes raised significant credibility concerns around the integrity, impartiality and transparency of the election management bodies.

The 88-pages report shows that the atmosphere outside polling stations was generally edgy, with some incidents of viciousness, fear and threats, especially against the opposition party agents and their candidates.

“On the voting day, October 28, some opposition party agents were barred from accessing polling stations, and such incidents were widespread as the election began, the report shows.

Report says some opposition leaders cited irregularities, including interference in the voting process by security agents, and the general absence of transparency around election activities greatly undermined the credibility of the elections.

Furthermore, report says rights to free expression and association, safety and integrity of the person were flagrantly violated despite guarantees in the Constitution. The constricted civic space, compounded by the restricted access to the Internet and social media applications, denied many people access to platforms and spaces for free expression and assembly.

“Also, civil society organizations were barred from engaging meaningfully in the electoral process,” it says.

(A worried Magufuli)

The report which took four months to compile says that the deployment of the military in a civilian process, as witnessed in Zanzibar, was highly irregular, as was the reported presence of uniformed foreign security agencies on the island. The high-handedness of security agents in executing arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention resulted in sexual violence, violence against women.

The panel of eminent persons led, by Prof. Fredrick Ssempebwa, former Chairman of the Uganda Constitutional Review Commission, in their final report, shows that restrictions on mainstream media forced citizens to fall back on social media as an alternative source of information and as a forum for self-expression – with the attendant perils of disinformation, propaganda and unverifiable claims. Tanzania imposed an Internet shutdown on the eve of the elections, as well as on Election Day, which gravely hampered communication and access to information.

The panel recommended that the Tanzania election management bodies should be secured constitutionally, the selection and appointment procedures for commissioners made inclusive, and their impartiality supported. Commissioners should also retain the authority to independently appoint their secretariat and hire their own staff.

It also advised the government to avoid the deployment of security agents, especially the military in elections as they strip a civilian exercise of democratic control of the State.

Tanzania National Election Commission (NEC) declared Magufuli a winner of the presidential seat with 12.5 million votes ( 84 percent), while his main challenger, Tundu Lissu of the Chadema, was allocated 1.9 million votes (13 percent). Popular opinion rejected the results as “fraudulent.” 

Find TEW’s full report here.