Millions Vote in Peaceful Elections in Tanzania

Published on Monday 1st November 2010

MILLIONS of Tanzanians voted smoothly and peacefully in the general elections throughout the country on Sunday.

A diversity in weather conditions characterized the day as in some places, like Zanzibar municipality, voters had to brave a heavy morning downpour while in some other areas across the country, voters ensured a scorching sun.

Reports from all over Tanzania indicated a mostly large turn-out of voters at the polling stations where the exercise went on smoothly despite a few and isolated hitches in a number of stations across the country, including late arrivals of ballot papers, registration discrepancies affecting some registered voters and isolated cases of low voter turn-out.

For example, ABDULWAKIL SAIBOKO witnessed a low turnout of voters at most polling stations in Mkuranga, Coast Region, where by afternoon; most of the stations had attended less than 50 per cent of all voters.

Returning officers there were, however, optimistic that the remaining voters would cast their votes in the eleventh hour. According to a cross-section of voters interviewed, this year's elections were the best organised in terms of speed and efficiency.

In Dar es Salaam, a team of 'Daily News' reporters witnessed shorter queues at several polling stations where in the new arrangement voters were divided according to the alphabets of their first names in several queues and as many voting sections worked very well.

At Mbezi Beach in Kawe constituency, Dar es Salaam, voters were impressed by the early show up of polling officers and the voting arrangement where names were grouped in alphabetical order.

Several people interviewed at Mbezi Shuleni, Mji Mwema and Tangi Bovu polling stations said they were happy that several polling booths were mounted in one station and people arranged in alphabetical order, something which saved much time.

"I am really happy with this year's arrangement as the names are arranged in alphabetical order and several booths have been erected. It has helped much in saving time," said Agnes Riwa after exercising her constitutional right at Mbezi shuleni.

There was minimal presence of security personnel, including both regular police and members of the anti-riot unit of the Tanzania Police Force, at the polling stations but played a low-key role in most areas except at Mwananyamala where AUSTIN BEYADI reports that they were forced to fire tear gas to disperse a large group of voters who had refused to move away from the Kisiwani polling station in Makumbusho ward.

The voters said that they were not willing to move away from the polling station, alleging that one of the contesting parties wanted to steal the votes.

The regular police officers who were at the polling station had fired three tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd but the efforts did not bear any fruits as more and more people besieged the polling station.

The officers at the polling station were forced to call for more force resulting into the police force deploying five Land Rover Defenders and one water cannon to the scene. Officer in-charge at the polling station Mr George Daniel said that the police had warned the crowd to move away from the station to a distance of about 200 metres.

From Mbezi and Kiluvya wards in Kinondoni and Kibaha constituencies, PIUS RUGONZIBWA reports that the voting exercise went on smoothly despite for few shortfalls which were smoothly solved by election clerks and supervisors.

However, the 'Daily News' survey established that despite the 16 political parties having candidates for parliamentary seats, only five managed to appoint agents to supervise the poling exercise.

In more than ten stations surveyed, only agents for CCM, CUF, CHAUSTA and CHADEMA were seen as stations supervisors promised to make sure votes for the parties not represented by agents were taken care of.

Supervisors in some of the stations in Kiluvya Ward reported calm voting exercise but were faced with problems where some people missed their names in the voters' registers or their pictures not matching with their records in the registers.


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