10 March 2016

Tanzania: 'No Vernaculars in Poll Meetings'

Mwanza — Stakeholders have called for a ban on tribal languages during campaigns ahead of future general elections in the country.

Airing views during the post election seminar here yesterday, many of the participants have challenged the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to be strict and maintain zero tolerance to candidates making campaigns using tribal languages.

The seminar was organised by the Coalition for Election Monitoring and Observation in Tanzania (CEMOT) and attended by local part time and permanent observers from various Community based Organizations (CBOs) in the Lake Zone and members of the media.

They cited examples of the previous general elections in 2015 which witnessed many candidates conducting campaigns in various areas and abusing their rivals using tribal languages known better to themselves and the audience they were addressing.

"It is crucial for the nation to make sure that the campaigns are conducted using the national language alone and not otherwise. Doing so will help prevent possible crashes between conflicting parties," said one of the observers, Ms Adventina Kashalaba.

She said it was increasingly observed that some candidates and their campaign teams saw it right to insult their opponents in native languages which could trigger chaos if the other side chose to revenge.

Other participants were of the views that voter education should seriously be included in schools for future eligible voters to be mature enough when participating in election exercises.

They also suggested for the ballot boxes to arrive early in polling stations to avoid creating uncalled for assumption of vote rigging.

Opening the workshop, the Mwanza Regional Community Development Officer, Mr Isack Ndasa, said local observers are important stakeholders in ensuring free and fair elections in any country.

He said the postmortem on the past elections was an important step in ensuring good preparations for the following elections. However, he challenged the local observers and organisations involved in monitoring general elections to remain patriotic to the country and make sure their reports remain credible and reliable.

"Observers must always remain confident and credible in their reports so as to keep on retaining peace and harmony in the country apart from being used to pave the way for the preparations of future elections," he said.

He said hiding true findings could not be helpful to the improvement of the future election processes but could rather render the whole country in disharmony if false reports are used with bad intentions.

Overall, CEMOT said in its preliminary report that the 2015 election exercise was successful with few cases of corruption being reported comparing to the past.

Reading the report, Mr Rodrick Henry from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) said 21 incidents of corruption were reported while other respondents said displaying the results on notice boards improved the release of the results comparing to the past.

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