John Pombe Magufuli of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party has opened a wide lead over his rival, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo’s (Chadema) Edward Lowassa in the country’s presidential elections. With just over 100 constituencies announced so far out of 265, Mr Magufuli was leading with slightly over two million votes, while Mr Lowassa had less than 1.5 million votes.
By Drazen Jorgic and Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala for Reuters.
DAR ES SALAAM – Tanzanians voted on Sunday [October 25, 2015] in presidential and parliamentary polls in which the ruling party is expected to fend off rivals led by former prime minister Edward Lowassa, who has tapped into mounting anger over corruption and the slow pace of change.
In power for more than half a century, the ruling CCM party has faced growing pressure to speed up development of Tanzania’s significant natural gas resources to spur economic growth and lower stubbornly high poverty rates.
Polls and analysts forecast a presidential victory for John Magufuli, a CCM candidate, but many expect the party’s parliamentary majority to be whittled down after the opposition united behind a single candidate for the first time.
I’m voting for Lowassa because his policies give Tanzanians hope. We’ve been tired for a very long time of the ruling party, Joram Murawa, a businessman, said before polls opened at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT). Voting was due to end at 1300 GMT.
In the run-up to the polls, the opposition has accused CCM of using state institutions to rig elections and intimidate its supporters, something the party and the government deny.
On the eve of the vote, Lowassa, who defected from CCM in July after the party spurned him as a possible leadership candidate, said he would only concede defeat if the vote was free and fair.
If it’s not, I won’t concede, Lowassa told reporters after stepping off the podium at his final rally.
Any dispute over the election outcome could raise tensions in a nation which has been relatively stable since its independence in 1961.
Outgoing President Jakaya Kikwete, who will step down after serving two terms, has urged against violence in the lead-up to the polls. Some officials and analysts have voiced concerns about rising tensions in the archipelago of Zanzibar, where the opposition has accused the government of intimidation. Anyone who tries to cause trouble will be dealt with, Kikwete said at a CCM rally on Saturday.
Both Magufuli and Lowassa have drawn tens of thousands of people to lively rallies, vowing to curb frequent power outages and ensure future economic growth reaches the poor.
They have also pledged to tackle rampant corruption, pave roads and improve crumbling infrastructure that hinders businesses and weighs on everyday life.
At a final rally on Saturday, Magufuli said he would focus on creating jobs and ensuring faster development of Tanzania’s natural gas discoveries.
Tanzania’s ambitious plans to build a multi-billion-dollar liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant appear to have stalled, a major concern in a nation which is counting on its gas resources to turbo-charge its development.
The new president will also need to do more to encourage foreign investment and shake off Tanzania’s reputation for letting bureaucracy hamper development.
THE UPDATE: Ruling CCM headed for victory in Tanzania polls
The Journalist Wilfred Ayaga has reported for the Kenya Standard John Magufuli of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party has opened a wide lead over his rival, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo’s (Chadema) Edward Lowassa in the country’s presidential elections.
With just over 100 constituencies announced so far out of 265, Mr Magufuli was leading with slightly over two million votes, while Mr Lowassa had less than 1.5 million votes. Despite Magufuli’s comfortable lead, the election has been touted as the closest in the country’s 51-year history.
Although the announced results are about 25 per cent of the total expected results, the ruling party appears to have gained marginally even in areas considered to be opposition strongholds.
Out of the 85 constituencies that had been declared by Tuesday, October 27, 2015, Magufuli was leading in over 70 of the constituencies spread across the country. Among the areas that the ruling party has done well are constituencies in Tanga, Mbeya, Kilimanjaro and the country’s Coast province.
Lowassa, according to the latest results is doing well in Arusha in the country’s Northern region, where he is registered as a voter. He is in a close contest with Magufuli in provinces such Lindi, Mtwara and in Pemba islands. In his hometown constituency of Monduli near Arusha, Lowassa garnered 49,675 votes against his opponent’s 11,355.
CCM is leading in more than three quarters of all the constituencies announced so far.
Before the Sunday poll, the opposition was expected to give the ruling party its stiffest scare yet, but political observers here say there is no strong indication so far that it will upset the ruling party’s dominance.
“It is possible that we are not seeing results from the opposition dominated areas, but they should get more worried that the little results we have seen from their strongholds are not as massive as they would have expected. It tells you that they would be holding their breath right now,” said a Tanzanian journalist working for a foreign radio station.
The National Election Commission (NEC) has been struggling to fend off accusations that it has adopted a selective pattern in the announcement of the results, choosing to ignore results from areas where the opposition has allegedly carried the day.
NEC Chairman Damien Lubuva defended the commission saying: ” The forms that we are receiving from the various polling stations are endorsed by the agents from the competing parties, and figures are not altered by the electoral commission. All that we are doing is nothing but transparency.”
But on the streets, there were reports of riots by opposition supporters, even as Mr Lubuva defended NEC from accusations that it was favoring the ruling party. Police in riot gear kept guard on the streets of Dar es Salaam for the third day running.
Despite the early lead taken by CCM, the ruling party suffered several blows as some of its ministers lost their seats in the parliamentary elections. Among ministers who lost their parliamentary seats were Omar Nundu, Cyril Chami, Steven Wasira, Christopher Chiza, Aggrey Mwanri, Stephen Kebwe, Anne Kilango, Vicent Nyerere, James Lembeli and Kisyeri Chambiri. The ministers were upset by contestants from the conglomeration of parties that make up the opposition.