Tanzania Sets Date For General Elections Regardless of The Coronavirus Pandemic

  • by Rodney Mponye
  • July 22, 2020

Tanzanians will elect a president, as well as lawmakers and local officials in a general election on October 28, the election commission announced on Tuesday.

In a statement, the commission announced that the election campaign would run from August 26 to October 27.

President John Magufuli will be seeking re-election for a second term, after being nominated as the ruling party candidate earlier this month.

Magufuli, who was elected in 2015, has in his first term been accused of narrowing freedoms, increasing authoritarianism and seeking to cover up his country’s coronavirus epidemic.

The country has not released official case numbers since April 29 and unlike its neighbours, did not take any measures to combat the virus.

On Monday, Magufuli reiterated his claim that Tanzania has no COVID-19 patients, and urged international tourists to visit the country.

“That’s why we are all not wearing face masks here. You think we don’t fear dying? It’s because there is no COVID-19,” he said.

The opposition fears the elections will take place in a climate of violence and intimidation, and has called for the formation of an independent electoral commission.

The main opposition party Chadema, has several candidates vying for the nomination, including deputy chairman Tundu Lissu who lives in exile in Belgium after being shot outside his home in 2017.

Party leader Freeman Mbowe, who was hospitalised last month with a broken leg after his party said he was beaten in a “politically-motivated” attack, has also announced his intention to run.

Last week, former foreign affairs minister Bernard Membe switched allegiance from the ruling party to the opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo), and is seeking their nomination to run against Magufuli.