Magufuli wins second term in Tanzania presidential election

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli won a landslide second term with some 84 per cent of the votes, electoral authorities said late on Friday, in an election deemed a travesty by the opposition.

Mr Magufuli of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party won 12.5m votes out of total 15m votes.

Mr Magufuli’s main challenger, Tundu Lissu of the Chadema party, secured 1.9m votes. He had publicly denounced intimidation of the opposition and called for “peaceful” protests to challenge the results.

“The commission declares John Magufuli of CCM who garnered the majority of votes as the winner in the presidential seat,” said the chairman of Tanzania’s electoral commission, Semistocles Kaijage.

Mr Magufuli’s ruling CCM party — a version of which has held power since independence from Britain in 1961 — was also on track for a parliamentary landslide and his candidate was declared the winner in the semi-autonomous Zanzibar region that has a history of contested votes.

Humphrey Polepole, the CCM ideology and publicity secretary, said the party’s goal was to get 95 per cent of the vote.

“Surely 84 per cent is still a great win, we are highly indebted to Tanzanians for the trust they have given us,” he added. Five years ago Mr Magufuli won his first presidential election with 58 per cent of the vote.

Wednesday’s election was marred by opposition allegations that the vote was not free and fair following complaints of a crackdown. “Democratic change is not possible in Tanzania under the current political and constitutional conditions,” Mr Lissu said.

He has called on the African Union observer mission in Tanzania headed by Goodluck Jonathan, the former president of Nigeria, “not to endorse the results of this sham” following internet and mobile phone blackouts.

Members of the electoral commission dismissed the allegations of fraud.

On Thursday Zanzibar’s opposition leader Seif Sharif Hamad was arrested and later released after calling on his supporters to contest the election results.

Amid heavily armed army and police patrolling, Omar Hamad, a 34-year-old opposition voter in the outskirts of Zanzibar’s capital, Stone Town, said that CCM loyalists had been harassing people to vote for Mr Magufuli.

The US embassy in Dar es Salaam said that while the vote went peacefully, there were credible allegations of significant election-related fraud and intimidation.

Aikande Kwayu, a political analyst aligned with the opposition cited an insufficient amount of ballots, police barring polling agents from the opposition, and harassment of local candidates during the vote on Wednesday. “The line between the state and CCM is very thin, the state acts on behalf of CCM to repress opposition,” she added. 

“They were going to win anyway. There was no need for them to fire a cannon to kill a mosquito,” said a western diplomat in Dar es Salaam.

Mr Magufuli, known as the Bulldozer, was first elected in 2015 on a promise to tackle corruption, but has faced widespread criticism for clamping down on his critics.

“He is a bulldozer, when he wants something done he will,” said a senior government official.

Hidaya Bakar, a 26-year-old in the Zanzibar, said she voted for Mr Magufuli. “He has done a very good job as president. He deserved our votes.”

A second term for Mr Magufili would mean a continuation for his legacy of public works, according to some analysts. “Tanzanians want politics of development,” said Mr Polepole.

However Mr Magufili would have to attract foreign investment with a government “trapped in the mentality of suspicion of the private sector”, said one senior Tanzanian businessman, as well as facing bouts of violence in the gas-rich south that is blamed on a shadowy Islamist group crossing the border from Mozambique. “This worries everybody,” said a local oil and gas executive.

Mr Magufili will also have to lure back tourists, who are a key source of foreign exchange, but who mistrust his claim that Tanzania is free of Covid-19.

Critics fear a second term by Mr Magufuli may also bring the possibility of a constitutional change to allow him to run again. “They have used the police to stop the opposition from campaigning; they have used all levers of state to disenfranchise the population”, said Fatma Karume, ex-president of the Tanganyika Law Society who was disbarred for criticising the government and taking it to court. “I am afraid the repression will not subside post election”.

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