By electronic Mail
2 ND October, 2020
The National Election Commission,
The United Republic of Tanzania,
P O Box 10923
Foreign Affairs Building, Shaaban Robert Str and Garden Avenue, Dar es Salaam
Dear Justice of Appeal (Rtd) Semistocles Kaijage,
RE: Rising Incidents of Violence Across Ahead of the General Election
The Panel of Eminent Persons on the Tanzania elections from Uganda, Kenya and Botswana (see annexure) continues to closely follow the developments in the countdown to the General Elections scheduled to be held on 28 October 2020.
While the Panel commends the preparations by the National Election Commission to stage peaceful elections, we would like to draw your attention to the following concerns:
1. Rising reports of electoral violence
Over the past week, incidences of violence involving political parties, citizens and security organs have been reported in various parts of the country. Some of the major incidents include:
a. On 18 September 2020, Chadema reported that its councilor candidate for Kibosho, Moshi Rural constituency, in Kilimanjaro region, Gallus Chuwa was abducted by unknown people and forced to announce that he was withdrawing from the elections;
b. On19 September 2020, Simon Mwacham one of the leaders of Chadema in Rundugai ward, Hai constituency, was attacked by machetes by people alleged to be CCM supporters;
c. In Vunjo constituency, Kilimanjaro region, ward candidates were reportedly being attacked and forced to join CCM. On 20 September 2020, NCCR Mageuzi party leader and parliamentary aspirant James Mbatia reported that another party cadre by the name of Mosha was attacked and one of his ears chopped off in the same Vunjo area;
d. In Zanzibar, youth alleged to be from CCM with the help of police attacked an ACT Wazalendo branch in Tutani (Mkombozi) and Barza Nuur in Nungwi and tore down the ACT-Wazalendo party flag and replaced the ACT Wazalendo campaign posters with CCM’s. The matter was reported to the police in Nungwi;
e. In Arusha, Chadema complained that some of their campaign posters and vehicles have been attacked by alleged CCM supporters;
f. In Bukoba, Kagera region, an incident captured on video showed CCM supporters throwing stones at Chadema presidential candidate Tundu Lissu as he attended a campaign rally in Gymkhana Stadium;
g. In Pemba, Wete district, CCM reported that two of its supporters, Khamis Nyange (Profesa Gogo) and Bakari Ali, were attacked by machetes at Kangagi mosque by alleged ACT-Wazalendo members as they prayed;
h. In Kilimanjaro, Regional Commissioner Anna Mghwira has warned of increasing incidences of violence in the region. These incidents include abduction and physical abuse with victims being dumped in rivers and forests. On 24 September, CUF Party Director of Communication Abdul Kambaya on is quoted as saying that his party’s flags have been vandalized in various constituencies;
i. ACT-Wazalendo has reported citizen being physically abused by Zanzibar Special Forces (Vikosi vya SMZ) in Pemba; and,
j. ACT-Wazalendo also reported that the Police were holding three party officials – officers arrested are Dotto Rangimoto, Dahlia Majid and Arodia Peter – after a raid at their headquarters in Magomeni on 25 September.
These acts of violence need to be deterred immediately to avoid catalyzing further violence as the election draws close. While we call on political parties, the security agencies and citizens to restrain themselves from actions that may undermine peace during and after the campaign period, we urge the commission to take action within its powers to deter the trend.
2. Disqualification of candidates and management of their appeals
The Panel also notes with concern the lack of transparency and accountability in the management of the appeals process of disqualified candidates which is central to electoral justice. We are concerned with the unexplained and apparent arbitrary disqualification of candidates. We call upon the NEC to exercise transparency in the hearing of the appeals and
adequately account for decisions made so far in accordance with universally accepted standards of administration of justice.
We note that the appeals of a section of opposition candidates have still not been resolved. While the NEC announced, in a statement dated 18 September 2020 that it had completed all pending petitions, we note that two opposition parties; Chadema and ACT-Wazalendo have expressed their dissatisfaction with the process. For example, Chadema has pointed out that
the appeals of 16 parliamentary candidates and 300 ward councilor candidates have still not been resolved. These pending issues and dissatisfaction among the candidates undermines the confidence of the public and stakeholders in the NEC’s management of the elections in
3. Legal Hurdles
The Panel has also noted the absence of legal remedies for some of the decisions of the EMBs as provided by the Constitution of Tanzania, the National Elections (Parliamentary and Presidential Elections) Regulations, 2020 and the Zanzibar Election Act No.4 of 2018. In our view, the legal limitations curtail the rights of aggrieved parties to seek redress for challenges emanating from their decisions and portend electoral injustice and credibility of elections.
In view of these concerns, the Panel:
- Calls on the Election Management Bodies (NEC and ZEC), duty bearers and stakeholders such as political parties and security forces to demonstrate fidelity to national and international law as well as transparency in carrying out their functions.
- Urges political parties, security forces and citizens to refrain from any acts of violence and maintain peace during this crucial stage of the campaign.
- Requests the Commission to publish reasons for the disqualification of candidates.
Prof. Frederick Ssempebwa
Dr. Willy Mutunga
Ms. Alice Mwonge
Hon. Justice Francis S. Mutungi- Registrar of Political Parties
Mr Simon Sirro- Inspector General of Police (IGP)
Hon. Justice (retired) Mathew Pauwa Mhina Mwaimu- The Commission for Human Rights and
Good Governance (CHRAGG)
All Political Parties
Thanks for your timely response to the situation at hand, which is very dangerous to our once peaceful and lovely Country.