Polls have opened in mainland Tanzania and semi-autonomous Zanzibar where more than 29 million voters will this Wednesday, Oct. 28, elect the president, lawmakers and local officials, Chimp Corps report.
President John Magufuli, 60, is tussling it out with 15 other candidates on the mainland.
The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party’s candidate faces stiff competition from opposition party Chadema’s firebrand Tundu Lissu.
Lissu returned this year to contest in the presidential polls after years in exile.
He appears to have support from powerful western lobby groups including international lawyer, Robert Amsterdam.
The government on Tuesday restricted access to social media platforms Twitter and WhatsApp in what officials said was a move to prevent wrong groups from stirring up violence.
Violence was more pronounced In Zanzibar as police fought opposition youth in street battles. The archipelago, where 566,000 voters are expected to take part in today’s polls, has been ruled by CCM since it merged with mainland Tanganyika in 1964.
Magufuli, a former Works Minister credited for overseeing major infrastructure projects in Tanzania, has promised more water projects and rural electrification to more villages across the vast East African country.
The President also pledged to maintain the current economic growth, peace and unity the country is enjoying.
On July 1, 2020, the World Bank announced that the Tanzanian economy had been upgraded from low to lower-middle income status.
Tanzania’s GNI per capita increased from $1,020 in 2018 to $1,080 in 2019, which exceeds the 2019 threshold of $1,036 for lower-middle income status. Thus Tanzania is currently classified as a lower-middle income country.
The upgrade for Tanzania is the product of the country’s strong economic performance of over 6% real gross domestic product (GDP) growth on average for the past decade.
On his part, Tundu has promised to investigate human rights abuses by government and turn the southern regions a natural gas economy hub.
Tundu also pledged to abolish charging petty traders KSh20, 000 for provision of Identity Cards (IDs) as well as protecting the welfare of public servants.
Magufuli has won praise for his tough stance against corruption but criticized for his poor approach to containing the Coronavirus pandemic.
Amnesty International criticized Magufuli for building up a formidable arsenal of laws to stifle all forms of dissent and effectively clamp down on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly ahead of today’s elections.
In Zanzibar, President Ali Mohamed Shein Is stepping aside after serving two terms in office.
Hussein Ali Hassan Mwinyi, son of former Tanzanian President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, a candidate of CCM, is facing competition from Freeman Mbowe from for Zanzibar presidential seat.