Authorities warn of potential violence in Tanzania general election

MR.PRESIDENT?: Dr. John Pombe Magufuli, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) choice for the next president of Tanzania

MR.PRESIDENT?: Dr. John Pombe Magufuli, the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) choice for the next president of Tanzania

Despite the fact that the government and law enforcement in Tanzania have vowed to safeguard the highly anticipated Sunday’s general election, religious leaders and Human Rights and Good Governance Commission (HRGGC) have warned violence is likely to break out during the exercise.

According to religious leaders things like misinformation and misleading and incendiary statements by politicians and candidates might spark trouble during and after this weekend’s election.

Addressing stakeholders in the electoral process at a workshop in Dar es Salaam, Rev. Cannon Thomas Godda, the Executive Director for the Inter-Religious Council for Peace in Tanzania (IRCPT) said “the situation is not so tense now but there are possible triggers of violence.”

Godda appealed to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) and Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) to be extremely vigilant in the remaining two days to ensure the election passes smoothly.

“We cannot underestimate threatening statements being issued. We need to sit together and find solutions before it is too late,” he told election observers and civil society leaders.

The official further urged the police and authorities to employ professionalism and ethics and handling election matters.

HRGGC Commissioner, Rehema Ntimizi highlighted that the 200 m dispute is a potential threat during the election and should the police not be brave enough, possible election violence is inescapable.

According to the national election law, voters and the general public are not allowed within 200 meters radius from any polling station. The provision is already being challenged in the courts of law.

Last week, the outgoing leader, President Jakaya Kikwete reiterated the government will not hesitate to use force to enforce Section 104 of the elections Act that prohibits the public within the vicinity of polling stations.

In accordance with Sections 48 (2) and 49 of the Code of Elections (Presidential and Parliamentary) in 2010, mainland, political parties participating in elections are required to appoint their agents of choice for each station where their names will be submitted to the supervisor of elections.

Agents will take the oath of allegiance, sections 59 and 60 of the Electoral Code states how an agent of a party or candidate, will play a part in the vote counting procedures, and how complaints will be handled by the Supervisor of Elections.

Sections 61 to 66 describe the tallying procedure of MPs and the Presidential votes, and the declaration of the results. Before counting votes, the election supervisor will make decisions about the valid votes or damaged, as well as discuss the principle role of agents in all stages. Agents will be given copies of relevant forms, including a complaint filed with, and the results.

Commissioner of Community Policing and Chairperson for Election Desk in the Police, Mussa Ali Mussa said the police has introduced an elections desk exclusively for handling the general election.

He said like before the police has been brave in handling the election campaigns and it is expected also not to use extreme force in the exercise. “We only need those people who had casted their votes to go back home and watch election results on television or listen to their radios,” he said.

Analysts say Sunday’s presidential contest between ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi candidate John Magufuli and Chadema and UKAWA’s Edward Lowassa is bound to be very competitive. Both candidates have been pulling enormous crowds on the campaign trail, and for the first time the opposition is very organized and determined to oust mighty CCM.