Violence erupts in Zanzibar on the night preceding polling day

THERE are reports of violence in Zanzibar this night, particularly in Pemba Island, with some people feared dead, following clashes involving the armed forces and the opposition supporters determined to avert vote-rigging on the night before the first day of polling.

Scores of people were reportedly injured. The reports of deaths are yet to be confirmed by competent sources. But some opposition sources said three people were gunned down, nine injured at Kangagani area in Pemba.

A popular anonymous whistle-blower going by the Twitter account @FichuaTanzania_global mentioned names of the casualties.

Asha Haji Hassan (33), Yusuf Shaame Muhidin (27) and Kombo Hamad Salum (30) are among those reportedly dead.

Teenagers were among those injured. The current list includes Khamis Mohammed Mmanga (40), Abbas Mgau Ali (22), Abbas Haji Nyange (27), Bakari Hamis Bakari (55), Muktar Yahya Hassan (16), Hamis Kombo Ali (13), Mgau Omar Mgau (35), Hamad Omar Hamad (20), and Ali Hamad Seif (16).

According to some sources, all the casualties were not involved in the confrontation with the armed forces. Asha Hassan, for example, was caught up on the way as she walked home from her father’s homestead. Yusuf Muhidin was playing cards on his home verandah, while Kombo Hassan Salum was shot outside his home, on the verandah, too.

Civil servants are scheduled to vote on 27th October 2020, a special arrangement by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) this year, meant to avail them with ample time to oversee the electoral process the following day. But the process, used for the first time this year, has been hugely criticised as a strategy to rig the election in favour of the ruling party, CCM.

Hundred of supporters of the opposition in Zanzibar say they are determined to guard the polling stations all night long against any rigging manoeuvres.

The government has already deployed the army and police forces which have been intimidating and beating up the people since last weekend. Some prominent leaders of the opposition were reportedly by the same forces between Sunday and Monday.

On Monday night, police and the army threw tear gas and live ammunition at the people, attempting to disperse them, but the endeavour caused more havoc.

Similar events were reported in Wingwi and Mzambarauni areas. The security forces, including the army and police, fired bullets and teargas as the angry youths threw stones at the security forces – all this dangerous drama taking place in the dark at about midnight.

In Unguja, over 50 CCM youths were spotted carrying boxes as they entered the Tnwiri polling centre in Pangawe Constituency, at about 9:09 PM.

Police officers carrying AK47 were seen escorting the youths into the polling station. There little trust between the opposition and the government officers including police and electoral officers due to the conduct of the government officials, their statements and going by three decades of vote rigging and mistrust in Zanzibar.