Over 1.5 million Tanzanians abroad will not vote, gov’t says

Bernard Membe, Tanzania's Minister of Foreign Affairs speaking to the country's Diaspora

Bernard Membe, Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs speaking to the country’s Diaspora

More than one and a half millions Tanzanians living and working overseas will not participate in the October general election due to lack of infrastructure, authorities said Thursday.

Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, Permanent Secretary in the country’s Ministry of Foreign affairs says the government does not have “sufficient infrastructure” to enable Tanzanians abroad to vote.

“It’s too late but we hope in the forthcoming elections we will be able to accommodate Tanzanians in Diaspora to vote for their leaders,” she said.

Bernard Membe, Foreign Affairs Minister has said there are over 1.5 million Tanzanians who have registered to vote but the government is having problems providing them with National Identity Cards for easy identification and proof of citizenship.

Tanzanian Diaspora members have urged the government to resolve their issues in due time in order not to disenfranchise them.

Records show Tanzanians abroad have been actively contributing to the development of their country,

According to President Jakaya Kikwete, their contribution has substantially soared with a total of US$14.157million (about TSh30billion) remitted back home in the last 25 months.

“Diaspora has had a critical contribution to the country’s economy.” Bernard Membe said on behalf of the president Thursday at the 2015 Tanzanian Diaspora SME’s Partnership Conference in Dar es Salaam.

President Kikwete said Diaspora can actively play crucial role in technology transfer, market and job creation through domestic investment.

“You can help Tanzania realize its dream to graduate into a middle income economy,” Kikwete told Diaspora members.

President Kikwete hailed the association of Tanzania Diaspora in the US which helped in bringing US health specialists to the country to offer offer health care, treatment and consultations.

Mariam Mungula, Tanzanian Diaspora Secretary (UK) urged the new administration to recognize their contribution to the national economy.

Ugandans abroad will not vote as well

Meanwhile, Tanzania is not the only East African Community country that is having voting issues with the diaspora, last week, the Ugandan National Electoral Commission announced Ugandans abroad will not vote in 2016 elections unless the law is changed.

“As per now, we (EC) do not have the mandate to organise an election for Ugandans in the Diaspora.The law has to be changed and that is when we can start organising election with our brothers and sisters in the East African Community region and later spread to the rest of world systematically,” Badru Kiggundu told a local daily Friday.

Kiggundu was responding to calls by the Ugandan Diaspora in North America who had urged the government to work out a mechanism to ensure they vote in the forthcoming general election.

“Uganda should borrow a leaf from other countries – even in Africa – that allow their citizens to vote at their foreign missions abroad,” Brian Kwesiga, President, Ugandan National North American Association (UNAA) said in an interview with Uganda’s Daily Monitor.