Tanzania's National Electoral Commission has begun distributing ballot papers and other materials across the country in readiness to administer the October 25 general election.
Commission Chairman Damien Lubuva said officials of the commission plan to meet Friday with local and international poll observer groups that will monitor the presidential, legislative and local elections. He said the electoral commission would organize a transparent general election.
“We hope by the 20th or 22nd at the latest, we would like to see all these sensitive materials distributed to all places where polling will take place," he said. "And we will cross-check whether they have received them and so on, so as to avoid on the day of the election to discover that some materials are missing."
Lubuva's comments came after the electoral commission established a call center at the Julius Nyerere International Conference Center in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. Funded by the U.N. Development Program, the call center will be an instant medium of communication between the organization and prospective voters, according to the commission.
Officials at the call center will address concerns and questions from citizens during the election process. The commission warned, however, that it would not tolerate abusive language from those who contact the call center.
Lubuva said his organization was working with political parties, newspaper editors and publishers, and stakeholders to address their concerns.
“Essentially, the idea was to exchange views, ideas and the preparedness for the election," he said. "They showed some concern on certain aspects, and it also gave us the opportunity to express our expectation from the political party leaders.”
Opposition parties expressed concern about security agencies intimidating and harassing their supporters ahead of the election. They also said the presence of the police during polling could scare partisans and prevent them from voting. But officials said the police presence during the election would prevent chaos or violence.
Opposition parties also wanted to ascertain whether the electoral commission would be able to declare the outcome of the presidential vote if the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party lost the election.
Lubuva called the question "unnecessary, because the law is very clear that the electoral commission announces results according to who wins.”