Tanzania's President Magufuli re-elected amid 'serious doubts' about vote credibility

Shola Lawal
·2-min read
Tanzania's John Magufuli in August this year - AFP
Tanzania's John Magufuli in August this year - AFP

President John Magufuli was declared the winner of Tanzania's election on Friday by the country's electoral body, despite strong doubts raised by multiple independent bodies on the integrity of the Wednesday ballot.

The incumbent took around 84 per cent of the vote, according to AFP. Members of the ruling CCM party have won 194 parliament seats out of a 393 total while opposition parties have only won two.

 Opposition Chadema party candidate, Tundu Lissu who won 14 per cent of the ballot, rejected the results. Thousands of polling agents from the party were denied access to polling stations, Mr Lissu alleged.

“There has not been any observation of procedures that the law requires for the elections to be deemed free, fair and credible,” Mr Lissu told reporters in the capital city, Dodoma. “The results …are therefore illegitimate results.”

The national electoral commission denies wrongdoing.

Millions streamed to the polls on Wednesday to cast their ballots but overwhelming allegations of fraud now mar their votes. The East African country, one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies has been led by the ruling CCM party for decades.

Once a beacon of democracy, experts fear President Magufuli could be positioning himself as a strongman looking to stay longer in office. During his first term, he banned opposition gatherings and targeted dissenters. 

Tanzanian Election Watch, a regional body of observers said there are reports of deaths and social media blackouts.

 In the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar where CCM candidate Hussein Myunyi was declared the winner on Thursday, opposition parties have alleged rigging. Leaders and supporters of ACT-Wazalendo, another opposition party, were reportedly detained and beaten for calling for peaceful protests following reports of massive voter fraud. 

The polls have been widely condemned. The United States Embassy in Tanzania said there are “serious doubts about the credibility of the results.” 

Jeffrey Smith of Vanguard Africa, a think tank tweeted: “The election in #Tanzania is the most brazenly rigged I’ve ever seen...The regime isn’t even trying to make it look credible. Any facade of democracy is gone. This is a full-scale dictatorship.”