Tanzania gears up for elections

SANF 21 no 44
The United Republic of Tanzania will go to the polls on 28 October to choose a President and Members of Parliament to serve for the next five years.

According to the National Electoral Commission (NEC) of Tanzania, a total of 15 candidates will contest the presidential poll, including the incumbent President John Magufuli of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).

Other candidates include Tundu Lissu, leader of the main opposition Party for Democracy and Progress (Chadema), and Bernard Membe, a former foreign minister and former senior official of CCM, who now leads the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo).

President Magufuli, who is seeking re-election for a second and final term, has pledged to focus on boosting the country’s economy and completing key projects aimed at making Tanzania “a great nation”.

Since he was elected in 2015, Magufuli has implemented a number of projects aimed at transforming the country – and in July 2020 the country achieved its middle-income vision, five years ahead of schedule.

“We have the capability to implement these projects, and we will implement them with speed using local resources,” Magufuli told supporters during a recent campaign rally, adding that some of the initiatives planned over the next five years include the purchase of five new planes for the national airline, the creation of jobs for eight million people, and increasing tourism earnings.

Lissu said his top priority is to improve education and health service in the country.

“We want to see all Tanzanians with health insurance cards and this is possible and practical, because a better health system is crucial for the development of any country,” he said.

Lissu returned to Tanzania in July after spending three years in Belgium.

Membe, who served as foreign minister from 2007 to 2015, has pledged to improve the economy and address poverty.

Tanzania uses the First-Past-the-Post electoral system to choose its President and Members of Parliament.

In the last election held in 2015, President Magufuli won 58.46 percent of the total votes cast against 39.97 percent collected by his nearest rival, Edward Lowassa, then leader of Chadema.

The presidential poll will be held concurrently with parliamentary elections, in which parties will contest for seats in a unicameral Parliament.

The National Assembly of Tanzania, the Bunge, has 393 members – of which 264 are elected in single-seat constituencies and 118 are indirectly elected, including 113 women elected by political parties in proportion to their share of the electoral vote, and five members from Zanzibar, two of whom must be women.

Ten members are appointed by the Union president, of whom five must be women, and one seat is reserved for the Attorney General. The Speaker may be designated from outside Parliament and becomes a Member of Parliament by virtue of holding the office of Speaker.

In the outgoing National Assembly, 248 seats were occupied by men and 145 seats by women, for a proportion of 36.9 percent women. Just over 24 percent of the members were under the age of 45.

The semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar, comprising Unguja and Pemba islands will hold elections on the same day.

Tanzania’s founding president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere united the mainland Tanganyika with the islands of Zanzibar in 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanzania.

The ruling CCM party has chosen Hussein Mwinyi as its presidential candidate in Zanzibar, and he is contesting against Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad of the ACT-Wazalendo.

The Chadema party is not fielding a presidential candidate in Zanzibar, and is backing Hamad.

Local, regional and international organizations are expected to observe the elections, including the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM).

The SEOM is headed by the Minister of International Affairs and Cooperation from Botswana, Dr Lemogang Kwape.

The SEOM is in Tanzania at the invitation of the NEC and its conduct will be consistent with the Constitution and electoral law of Tanzania, and the provisions of the Revised SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections.

The SEOM will issue a statement after the elections on the conduct of the poll.

This is in line with the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections, which encourage Member States to promote common political values and systems. sardc.net

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