By Anne-Marie Bissada
Tundu Lissu, the head of Tanzania’s largest opposition CHADEMA, has called out President John Magufuli and the CCM government for committing electoral fraud. “We didn’t have an election. We got a complete fraud,” Lissu tells The Africa Report.
Throughout election day, despite a social media and internet shortage across the country, voters and observers were capturing images of pre-filled ballots, ballot stuffing while opposition polling agents were reportedly denied entry into voting stations.
Statement by Tanzania Elections Watch
“Across the country, our polling agents were not allowed into 57 900 polling stations across the country, roughly 75% of our polling agents were not allowed into polling stations. Those who remained, those who managed to get into the polling stations, were eventually kicked out before vote counting,” says Lissu.
Just a day after voting, the US Embassy in Tanzania said there had been “credible allegations of significant election-related fraud and intimidation” in Wednesday’s poll. It added that these allegations include:
- detention of candidates and protesters
- restrictions on representatives of political parties’ ability to access polling stations
- repeat voting
- pre-filling of ballots
- widespread blocking of social media and other communications platforms
U.S EMBASSY STATEMENT ON TANZANIA’S ELECTIONS OCTOBER 29, 2020
Contest results if Magufuli wins?
To Lissu, there’s no question about Magufuli winning.
“It is not if the result is in his favour,” says Lissu. “We know it is going to be in his favour because of the rigging. The issue is the margin, and it will probably be in the high 90s, because up to where we are now, we have only managed to win only one constituency.”
In response to accounts of electoral violations, Lissu has called on the Commonwealth Secretariat and the African Union to launch an investigation into irregularities.
The legal firm representing Lissu released the letter, stating: “Magufuli and the CCM government have dealt a death blow to democracy in Tanzania today [28 October].”
Call for civil disobedience
“We have never, ever had this kind of election before…I had a press conference yesterday [29 October] in which I say that this result is unacceptable to us. We do not recognise it. And we are asking our people to protest these daylight robbery by going into the streets all over the country,” says Lissu.
He adds that they are asking supporters to “protest peacefully” on the streets as a means of expressing their civil disobedience, so “Magufuli’s security force and the intelligence apparatus will have to decide what to do with these peaceful protests.”
“Civil disobedience is not a crime. In any country, opposing illegality has never been a crime.”
‘The way of Zimbabwe’
Events that unfolded on voting day were, however, of no surprise to Lissu. “I would have been surprised had it been otherwise,” he adds.
But he is worried that it has essentially set Tanzania onto a path further away from democracy. He has called on the international community to see that it does not veer down that road adding: “It [the international community] has to make it clear that these types of sham elections for governments resorting to force arms to retain power is unacceptable in today’s world.” Failure from the African Union and the international community to intervene could see Tanzania unravel fast.
“From from here on, I think the country will go the way of Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.”