Tanzania: Magufuli, Lissu Peg Campaigns on Local Challenges for Voters

Tanzania's main election rivals, President John Magufuli and Tundu Lissu, have turned attention to specified local challenges for voters in a bid to win support in their final rounds of campaigns.

On Wednesday, Lissu, the Chadema presidential candidate reiterated his call for a large turnout of voters when elections are held on October 28. He argued that will be the surest way to ensure his bid garners more votes against incumbent, Dr John Magufuli.

And he and his running mate Salum Mwalimu pledged protection of businesses and investment capital, promising to look at the legal regime on doing business in the country.

Tanzanians traditionally turn out in large numbers and barring a calamity, a significant percentage of the estimated 27 million voters could cast their ballots next week. In 2015, six in every ten of the then 23 million registered voters turned out as Magufuli competed against Edward Lowassa and several other candidates.

This year, although the race is realistically between Dr Magufuli and Lissu, 13 other candidates are competing.

"In order to enable me win the election, you have to make sure that on October 28, all of you go to the polling stations to vote for me," Lissu told a rally at Lushoto in Tanga Region, north eastern part of the country.

Lissu's running mate spoke in Geita Urban constituency, near Lake Victoria in north western Tanzania, a local gold mining centre.

"We will protect your investment capital and won't withhold your containers of concentrates or vehicles. We just want you (investors) to guarantee the freedom and rights of our residents around the sites, especially small scale miners to freely do their small mining activities," he said, in an indirect jab at the incumbent. Dr Magufuli imposed tougher policy changes on mining in Tanzania, initially banning exportation of unprocessed ore and accusing foreign owners of dodging taxes by under declaring the contents of their exports.

It also pointed to lax custom officials. Chadema's campaign bids indicate its leaders will be less radical but will focus on ensuring each investors worth.

"The party's policy for small scale miners is too open, that, we just want them to be rich and enjoy their lives while paying taxes to the government," Mwalimu added.

"If the site is discovered by small scale miners, let them run it. Don't come with your big machines, chasing away our people from the sites," he noted.

"I know that the majority of investors are currently wishing to shift their investment capitals to other nations due to the existing challenges. I promise you that Chadema government will protect your businesses," he said.

Dr Magufuli on his part used the campaign sessions to pledge to voters in Tanga Region, where the government is putting up a new port, that there will be more jobs in the near future, especially after the construction of the $3.5 billion oil and gas pipeline with Uganda begins.

Both countries signed an agreement in September for the pipeline from Hoima in Uganda to Chongoleani in Tanga the region. The project could create up to 10,000 direct jobs, the President said.

Dr Magufuli was accompanied by his Health minister, Ummy Mwalimu, who is contesting for Tanga Urban constituency.

"In the last five years, Dr Magufuli reduced the funerals in our homes through improved health services that cut deaths of mothers and children," said Ms Mwalimu.

Later in Same, in Kilimanjaro region, Dr Magufuli pledged to speed up water projects that had stalled.

In his campaigns, Dr Magufuli has, too, asked voters to turn out in large numbers but maintain peace. He has also used his track record of taming corruption in public service, improve access to clean water and electricity to rural folks and improving literacy though free basic public education

Meanwhile, ACT Wazalendo's Zanzibar presidential candidate, Mr Seif Sharif Hamad, is accusing the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) of irregularly increasing the number of voters in the isles by more than 117,000 electors.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam earlier, Mr Hamad said that the party's findings show that there were 448,533 eligible voters in Zanzibar, but the voter register contains 565,363 names.

"ZEC has denied more than 50,000 eligible people registration, but has registered ghost voters to prop up the ruling party," he said.

He said the party's investigations have established that the vast majority were "ghost voters", claims the ZEC swiftly dismissed.

"The enrollment of voters is done according to the Electoral Act (No 4 of 2018), which gives ZEC the mandate to establish the Permanent Voter Register. The law requires us to reopen the register on the 20th day after elections, and anyone has the right to view it," ZEC official Baraka Sunni told The Citizen yesterday.

ZEC, he said, collects the updates from district enrollment officers, and the names of ineligible voters are deleted, but the voter register must be open for people to view.

"Every person has the right to ask for and be given the voter register for scrutiny," Mr Sunni noted.

(Reporting by John Namkwahe, Alfred Zacharia and Alawi Masare)

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