WERE THE ELECTIONS FREE AND FAIR?

ZANZIBAR. Most responsible opinion recognises that the actual process on election day was free and fair. But something happened in the counting, either at the polling stations or at the Electoral Commission or both to cause most independent witnesses to have serious doubts as to whether the election results did reflect the true wishes of the people. The registration process had also been beset with problems and the rule under which only residents of five years standing could register was a disadvantage for CUF.

During the long-drawn out counting process, part of which was carried out in the dark, both parties declared in writing that the elections had not been free and fair.
On November 21 ten of the 17 main donors issued a statement which said that ‘The figures announced by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) do not always correspond with the figures recorded at the polling stations. …. A reconciliation could alter the outcome of the presidential election-…the ZEC was notified of the discrepancies prior to its final announcement of the results but went ahead with the announcements without rectification. Given the narrow margin between the presidential candidates the results of the presidential election declared by the ZEC may be inaccurate. … Representatives of the donors made their concern known to the President of the Union on October 27- They suggested that corrective measures should be made to the figures when they called on him on October 29 but nothing was done. The International Observer Team attempted to reconcile the discrepancies and confirmed their existence in the final compilation of the figures. In other cases …… observers were denied access to the data by ZEC and other officials and they found the ballot boxes and records compromising’.

On November 23 Zanzibar Electoral Commission Director Aboud Talib Aboud said that the results were valid. “The ambassadors in their statement have an intention to cause controversy over the validity of the president …. Some Western countries had decided on their own president even before the elections had been held ………. observers had been given the information they needed but some tried to direct election officials what to do” he said.

The CUF refuses to recognise the new government and is boycotting the Zanzibar House of Representatives although its MP’s agreed to be sworn in. What is clear is that Zanzibar is divided almost exactly in half in its political allegiance. And Pemba does not wish to be ruled by the CCM as it failed to elect even a single ward councillor in the elections. But as the tough re-elected President Amour correctly pointed out, in democracy, even if you win by one vote, you win.

THE MAINLAND. Most people believe that the results did broadly reflect the wishes of the people although the Commonwealth observer group spoke of ‘unique irregularities and discrepancies’ that had never been observed in Commonwealth countries before.

The ten OAU Observers praised the tremendous patience, maturity and tolerance of the people but said that the actual conduct of the elections failed to live up to expectations. However, there was a consistent voting pattern. The main NCCR opposition was very strong in Moshi, from where its leader comes, and also showed strength in some urban areas with large numbers of young voters who tended to support the opposition. In rural areas by contrast, the CCM usually achieved big majorities which reflect the party’s long established grass roots organisation.

It is perhaps significant that, at the end of the voter registration period earlier, only 25% of voters had registered. After an extension of two weeks the percentage went up to about 75%. Presumably it was the efficient CCM machine which ensured this. The ethnic support for John Cheyo (UDP) in the Shinyanga region and the success of three strong CHADEMA candidates in different parts of the country lend credibility to the exercise. Furthermore, the main opposition parties have accepted the presidential result even though well over a hundred losers in parliamentary elections are appealing to the High Court with long lists of alleged irregularities. In Dar es Salaam there must be suspicion that middle level CCM cadres fighting very close constituency elections may have tried to do some rigging. The Electoral Commission said that the problem in Dar es Salaam had been that because of its proximity to the government stores, which held the ballot materials, Dar es Salaam was the last part of the country to receive its supplies – hence the delay in opening polling stations. It is unlikely that results from the second vote in Dar es Salaam fully reflected the wishes of the people there because the opposition had declared a protest boycott.

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