As Tanzania Votes, Many See Democracy Itself on the Ballot
Tons Anita went to the polls yesterday to vote in an election overshadowed by opposition complaints of irregularities such as ballot box, stuffing President John Maga. Fully who is accused of stifling democracy seeks a second term in office alongside fourteen other candidates talk to Dan. Padgett is electoral politics at the university. Of Aberdeen, he specializes in political communication through mass rallies and populist and nationalist ideologies in Tanzania and joins me on the line. Now Don Tanzania's long been thought of in the West is a a haven of stability within east Africa but I mean this isn't necessarily the case and I. I wonder if you could sketch out the political dynamic there, the ruling party's been in power since nineteen sixty one. Yes that's right. It's is the longest ruling party in sub. Saharan Africa. The political dynamic in Tanzania has been one of the ruling Kanzi, CCM's decline over the last fifteen years. Reaching a low point in two thousand fifteen where it where the margin of victory was. The fittest is ever been. Since then President Michel, Foodie, it came to kyle and that's election has led Tanzania. Very shot an increasingly extreme offered Harry. Intern. And we weren't sure how just how? Radical that authoritarian agenda would be and the election this we're just getting results from now suggests that it is as bad as any of us feared as so the opposition allegations of vote rigging, etc do stand up. Well. So. Of course, normally I would turn to international election observers. Attorney to arbitrate these claims to decide which to give credence in which not to give credence. Unfortunately, we can't almost no international election observers. Were invited and those that were invited were. Invited at our so Given that and given the advantage of the opportunity that this creates the ruling party the elections it's hard not to give at least prima facie credence to these opposition claims especially given the the wide range of anecdote to. Video and photographic evidence that I've seen an which which I've been collecting these last twenty four hours, and of course, zipping a social media crackdown various restrictions on the press. Has Been, a crackdown all over and and for the last five years. So in many ways, the the rigging receipt which we've been seeing apparently seeing of the next twenty four hours. Is. Really just the icing on the authoritarian cake. There's extreme. Media Censorship rallies have been banned and consider route the rally. The most important means of communication tends to emotional time about seventy percent of people attend local meetings on a regular basis and attend election campaign rallies they were they were abandoned twenty sixteen and indeed the opposition at large have. Hottest. Struggle underneath. Almost constance. Of States and extra state harassment in includes trumped up court cases but also extrajudicial. So extra state attacks. Unknown assailants that have arrested some abductors killed. And in fact, one of the main challenges has recently returned to the country after recovering from gunshot wounds. That's right. So tenderly series is. Presidential. Candidate is the largest opposition party in Tanzania. and. So that's Experience of being of surviving attempted assassination attempt has has given. US already in very impressive political figure a sort of a sparkle. Some people referred to him as a living miracle. But of course, we don't know the results. Yes. But we all seeing violence particularly in Zanzibar. Zanzibar the autonomous. ARCHEPELAGO's Zanzibar, which is a federally devote area of 'em. Into UK. Has has often seen electoral violence. We saw it in ninety five and two, thousand and thirteen, thousand, five and twenty fifteen and actions by varying degrees. So in in some ways, this is a return to form It's not. The recurrence of violence is is. Seems to be because the opposition has probably one in sensabaugh almost every time. But they've never officially one out one means or another has always been used to not in the that's the that's the the scholarly consensus on. Politics what's different? This time I think is that there's violence on the mainland as well. So this is no longer an issue of contained physical violence in Zanzibar. There have been a series of incidents including. What appears to be an attempt to a to attack the chairman of the leading opposition party on the eve of the elections. So that's one difference the other is considered. No money there is. A. Sporadic protests violence and in return state brutality, police army heavy-handedness in putting down those protests that the protests have often been. Constrained and sporadic because they have not been condoned led. By, by the leaders of the opposition there, there are indications that this could be different this time one of the reasons for that is. The, the rhetoric is different. The leader of the opposition in Zanzibar say amount has been say had has been saying that in the past he's held his supporters back. He's been of restraint, and at this time he he won't urge restraint to newly sue has said that he will. Bring people out onto the streets and consider the state of the opposition behind because it seems like this might be the last stand in a sense that vikings they can make, and so they they don't have that say incentive to hold back this time and say the keep up how to drive the next time. Just finally before we go, do you think that this is part of something that we're seeing across parts of Africa there is a younger demographic. They were all born after independence that not prepared to accept authoritarian rule the just coming to the age where they are protesting we're seeing it in Nigeria within saws and in various other places could this be the the Africans spring. My sense is if there is African spring to come, it will come off and an Wiki will extend. Mexico an authoritarian winter. The trend on that strikes me is that a number of leaders are emerging in an intense Aena in Zambia. In other parts of the consonant, which bear a striking resemblance to this sort of authoritarian. Developmental. Nationalists of is so The there's a young population I are angry. But in fact, I think the trend seems to go the other way. And results. When can we expect those? So the first also are already dripping in and they show. That a series of opposition strongholds, there's places that you would never expect or or at least likely. To expect to go to a to the ruling party are being won by then by margins of three to one, which suggests that the the the rigging. Being worried about maybe taking place typically a Tanzanian election result takes three or four days that was related end and announced especially with the presidential elections but. So far. This is actually has been crisis already.