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Dispatch

AD52: Tanzanians approach competitive election with confidence in freedom to choose

Rose Aiko and Thomas Bentley 19 Oct 2015 Tanzania
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On 25 October 2015, Tanzania will have its fifth multiparty election since the restoration of the multiparty system in 1992. The incumbent president, Jakaya Kikwete, is ineligible to be elected due to the constitutional limit of two five-year terms for the presidential office. Following a highly contested nomination process, the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi(CCM), selected John Magufuli as its presidential nominee, unexpectedly eliminating several heavyweights from the race. After failing to secure the ruling party’s nomination, Edward Lowassa, a former prime minister during Kikwete’s first term, defected to the opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) and now stands as the presidential nominee of the opposition Coalition for People’s Constitution (UKAWA), formed by CHADEMA, the Civic United Front (CUF), the National Convention for Construction and Reform (NCCR-Mageuzi), and the National League for Democracy (NLD). The addition of Lowassa has strengthened the
opposition front and points toward what may be Tanzania’s most competitive election ever. Moreover, recent Afrobarometer survey results show that although citizens’ assessments of government performance improved on several fronts between 2012 and 2014 (see Afrobarometer Dispatch No. 50 at www.afrobarometer.org), a majority of citizens say that economic conditions are “fairly” or “very” bad and the country is headed in the wrong direction.
This year’s election represents a test for the country’s election processes as well as for the ruling party. Public support for elections is solid: A majority of Tanzanians say that good citizens should always vote and that leaders of a country should be chosen through free and fair elections. Most feel “completely” free to vote for the candidate of their choice, and public trust in the National Electoral Commission (NEC), though weaker than a decade ago, remains substantial. Still, significant proportions of the population voice concerns about whether votes are counted fairly and whether voters are offered a genuine choice in elections, as well as about bribery of voters and biased media coverage. More than half of citizens express concern that elections are not effective at enabling voters to remove underperforming leaders from office. And some citizens express fear of election-related intimidation and violence.
As Election Day approaches, it is crucial that efforts are sustained to achieve a high-quality election in which voters’ choices count and voters’ safety is assured.

Key findings
  • Almost three-fourths (72%) of Tanzanians believe the country is going in the wrong direction, and two-thirds (66%) perceive the country’s current economic conditions as ”fairly bad” or “very bad.”
  • An overwhelming majority of Tanzanians (81%) say that good citizens should “always” vote in elections and that leaders of the country should be chosen through regular, open, and honest elections
  • Eight out of 10 citizens (80%) feel “completely free” to vote for the candidate of their choice, and more than two-thirds (68%) say they trust the NEC “somewhat” or “a lot.”
  • But substantial proportions of the population express concerns about whether votes are counted fairly (39% say “never” or only “sometimes”), as well as whether voters are bribed, whether the media covers all candidates fairly, and whether voters are offered a genuine choice in elections.
  • About half (48%) say they do “not at all” fear becoming a victim of intimidation and violence during election campaigns, while 5% fear this “a lot.” One-third (32%) say voters are “never” threatened with violence at the polls, whereas 64% say this happens at least “sometimes.”

On 25 October 2015, Tanzania will have its fifth multiparty election since the restoration of the multiparty system in 1992. The incumbent president, Jakaya Kikwete, is ineligible to be elected due to the constitutional limit of two five-year terms for the presidential office. Following a highly contested nomination process, the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), selected John Magufuli as its presidential nominee, unexpectedly eliminating several heavyweights from the race.

After failing to secure the ruling party’s nomination, Edward Lowassa, a former prime minister during Kikwete’s first term, defected to the opposition Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) and now stands as the presidential nominee of the opposition Coalition for People’s Constitution (UKAWA), formed by CHADEMA, the Civic United Front (CUF), the National Convention for Construction and Reform (NCCR-Mageuzi), and the National League for Democracy (NLD). The addition of Lowassa has strengthened the opposition front and points toward what may be Tanzania’s most competitive election ever.

Graph: Freedom to vote for candidate of one’s choice | Tanzania | 2014

Moreover, recent Afrobarometer survey results show that although citizens’ assessments of government performance improved on several fronts between 2012 and 2014

(see Afrobarometer Dispatch No. 50), a majority of citizens say that economic conditions are “fairly” or “very” bad and the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Our press release is available here. For the full dispatch, click on the “Download now” button below.

Rose Aiko

Rose Aiko is a researcher for REPOA in Tanzania.

Thomas Bentley

Thomas Bentley is a research assistant for Afrobarometer and a PhD student in the<br /> Department of Political Science at Michigan State University.