Tanzania’s election commission announced 28th October as the official date for the country’s highly anticipated presidential and parliamentary elections. President Magufuli will be seeking re-election through Chama Cha Mapinduzi, facing off with 14 other candidates.
On 21st January 2020, the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli, invited international election observers to witness Tanzania’s commitment to universally accepted democratic norms and ideals demonstrated best through the periodic holding of elections.
On the same day, the President provided assurances to the diplomatic community during the annual sherry party that the 2020 general elections will be free, fair, and transparent. The president used the occasion to extend an invitation to international election observers to witness for themselves Tanzania’s commitment to the global community of democracies during the October elections.
We have come together through this panel of people who care deeply about democracy and constitutionalism from the East and Southern Africa region to hold President Magufuli and his counterparts to their word. We believe a truly democratic Tanzania is critical for anchoring the enjoyment of peace, tranquility and justice in our region.
Tanzania’s role in building fair and just democracies across the Great Lakes, East and Southern Africa can not be overemphasized. We have all borne witness to Mwalimu Nyerere’s astute leadership in forging our nations together and in aiding for our heed for truly democratic and self governing states throughout the global south. We reckon with immense pride the role played even by Mwalimu’s predecessors in establishing in our region democratic states grounded on social justice.
It is against this background that we felt obliged to convene ourselves and watch against any trajectory that would threaten to diminish Tanzania’s legacy and the enjoyment of continued peace and stability in the country and the region. Elections in the region have if anything, taught us that sustainable peace is indeed anchored on electoral justice. When citizens are allowed to exercise their free will to come together, to publicly demonstrate and express their concerns then the democratic promise is realized. Our region has come a long way in realizing the gains we have made particularly in the last three decades.
We note with concern, the now well publicized deterioration in democratic space in the country and reports of unequal and unfair treatment of political actors. We take note of the erosion of opportunity for independent media, civil society to scrutinize the conduct of the 2020 elections. We have received with concern, the news of the absence of international observers during this year’s edition.
We, from the region therefore have an obligation to support our Tanzanian brothers and sisters to hold the Tanzanian state accountable and to ensure it lives up to international obligations. We will in the next few weeks monitor closely events in the country, engage with our Tanzanian peers as well as the authorities to remind them of their responsibility, to encourage them to fulfill their obligations and where necessary to contribute to any processes aimed at strengthening the protection of human rights and democratic accountability in the country.
We will draw insights from all walks of life and keep an open line of communication for anyone who wishes to inform or advise us on the context in Tanzania. We will also deploy our extensive network in the region and globally to encourage our peers to engage the Tanzanian state and non-state actors to ensure they all contribute to a free, fair, transparent and credible electoral process.
We have established social media accounts and we will offer regular briefing on our observatory.