Election: only one poll matters

A man flies a Chadema flag upside-down at a rally earlier this month. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

A man flies a Chadema flag upside-down at an Ukawa rally earlier this month. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

It may be cliche to say, but you can feel the excitement in the air.

With less than a week to go before election day, candidates are still furiously bouncing from one campaign stop to the next and there are flags fluttering and posters plastered absolutely everywhere.

The two key candidates, Edward Lowassa (Ukawa coalition) and John Magufuli (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) have promised change: both say they will provide free education, a crackdown on corruption and agricultural incentives, among other things.

In terms of public appearances, the Raia Mwema newspaper reports that as of October 7 opposition coalition candidate Lowassa attended 104 rallies in 26 regions while ruling party candidate Magufuli has attended 180 rallies in 20 regions.

Magufuli, the current Minister of Works, spends an average of 60 minutes speaking while former Prime Minister Lowassa speaks for 15 minutes, says Raia Mwema.

Opinion poll results have fluctuated wildly in their findings: A poll by Nanos research reportedly shows Lowassa with a clear lead while another by Ipsos hands the majority to Magufuli.

But the only poll that matters will be decided by 23,253,982 registered voters on October 25.

(Fun fact: 57 percent of registered voters are under 35 years old.)

Will it be peaceful?

Historically, election related skirmishes have taken place in many cities across Tanzania (both on the mainland and Zanzibar) and this year is no different.

“A tight election or the perception of a rigged outcome could increase the chance of post-election violence in what has been one of Africa’s leading democracies and most peaceful countries,” says former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson, speaking to African Arguments.

Opposition members have accused CCM of plotting to ‘steal’ the election and have called for supporters to guard polling stations, while the National Electoral Commission says voters should leave the polling station immediately after voting.

Since none of us can predict the future, the bottom line is: be vigilant but not paranoid.

Read more: Emergency preparedness

Read more: Election: what are the talking points?

Read more: Election: who are the key players?

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