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Tanzania Elections Watch Final Report
Tanzania identifies itself as a democracy. Its tradition of competitive political contest and inclusion, built since the restoration of multipartyism 25 years ago, has recently suffered severe setbacks because of shrinking civic space and low tolerance for political plurality.
Going into the October 28, 2020 General Election, Tanzania had effectively shut out independent election observation and monitoring by denying accreditation to civil society organisations, deregistering non-governmental organisations, and freezing the bank accounts of large civil society coalitions. The exclusion of observers from the electoral process foreshadowed the country’s approaching democratic decline.
It is against this background that civil society organisations from the eastern Africa region established the Tanzania Elections Watch (TEW) initiative. The initiative, organised and coordinated by Kituo cha Katiba: Eastern Africa Centre for Constitutional Development (KcK) and the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC), sought to plug the gaps evident in the exclusion of domestic observers from the electoral process and the inability of international observers to access the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as provide oversight for the elections.
The Tanzania Elections Watch initiative set out to overcome the limitations imposed by Covid-19-related travel restrictions, low physical access for international observers, and the absence of meaningful local observation missions by leveraging technology to collate, triangulate and verify information from various sources.
It established an information capture and analysis system that collated data from various sources, among them dedicated media monitoring firms, social media heat maps, discreet monitors and a team of observers spread across the Tanzania Mainland and its Zanzibar archipelago. Electoral governance and legal experts with knowledge of Tanzania analysed the information to distill observations about the elections and the human rights situation in the country. TEW also regularly communicated with the election management bodies (EMBs) in Tanzania and Zanzibar, as well as the leaders of critical state agencies such as the police, the political parties registrar, and the communication regulatory authority.
The conduct of the elections was assessed against the standards in Tanzania’s Constitution as well as in the guiding principles of various international instruments of democratic practice to which the country has committed itself.