The chairman of the National Electoral Commission of Tanzania says his organization is determined to ensure the general election scheduled for October 25 is peaceful and credible.
Justice Damien Lubuva says the NEC is closely working with all political parties in the run-up to the vote, to ensure an equal playing field during the poll. Some critics have accused the commission of not using a transparent process when it recently compiled a voters list to be used for the elections.
They say that lack of transparency could undermine the credibility of the election.
But, NEC chairman Lubuva disagreed. He says for the first time, the NEC used the biometric system - a system that uses human body characteristics to determine identity - to compile the voters register ahead of the general election.
Lubuva says an estimated 24 million prospective voters were registered ahead of the elections.
“That was quite transparent in the sense that before we embarked on that one we had meetings with various stakeholders, including political parties, religious leaders and civil society, and explained that we are going in for a new system of voter registration," he said. "That is how it was started…So to say that the process has not been transparent, I think it is really an overstatement."
The October election will be Tanzania’s fourth general election following the reintroduction of a multiparty democratic system in 1993. This year’s presidential vote is expected to be the most competitive following the recent defection of former prime minister Edward Lowassa from the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi to the opposition Chadema.
Lubuva says elections in Tanzania have been generally peaceful, and he adds that the NEC looks forward to maintaining the tradition of administering yet another round of peaceful and transparent elections.
“That is what we are aspiring to achieve in the next elections in October. For that reason, we have been making all necessary arrangements to enable the voters to vote freely to enable the political parties that are participating to have free access to the voting,” he said.
Political parties have so far nominated eight aspirants to compete in the upcoming presidential election.
Lubuva says the electoral body has urged the political parties, the candidates and prospective voters to help ensure the campaign is devoid of violence. He also says police have been urged to enforce the law but not to interfere with the electoral process.