Landslide win for Tanzania ruling party in boycotted local polls

President Magufuli's ruling CCM party sweeps polls boycotted by opposition parties amid alleged gov't interference.

    The vote decided who would take office at the grassroots of government in villages, cities and towns across Tanzania [Ericky Boniphace/AFP]
    The vote decided who would take office at the grassroots of government in villages, cities and towns across Tanzania [Ericky Boniphace/AFP]

    Tanzania's ruling party has swept local polls boycotted by opposition parties amid alleged government manipulations.

    Official results released on Monday showed President John Magufuli's ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party had scored landslide victories in almost all of the more than 330,000 local leadership positions up for grabs in Sunday's ballot, which decided who would take office at the grassroots of government in villages, cities and towns across Tanzania.

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    CCM candidates won more than 99 percent of the 12,000 village chairmanships contested, as well as all of the country's more than 4,000 street leadership positions. 

    Chadema, the main opposition party, said earlier this month it would not be taking part in the elections because of alleged government manipulations, including the mass disqualification of its candidates. Several other smaller parties also joined the boycott.

    "Our party believes it is wiser not to support such electoral cheating," Chadema President Freeman Mbowe said in November. "To continue to participate in elections of this kind is to legitimise illegality."

    In the economic capital Dar es Salaam, several polling stations were closed on Sunday because the CCM candidate stood unopposed and thus was automatically elected.

    Four of Tanzania's 26 mainland regions did not hold polls at all because of the opposition boycott. 

    "In most cases, CCM candidates were unopposed," AFP news agency quoted Selemen Jaffo, the minister for regional administration and local government, as saying at a news conference in the administrative capital, Dodoma.

    In a very small number of cases, opposition candidates did win because they had not officially withdrawn their bid, Jaffo said.

    In the previous local ballot in 2014, the CCM won three-quarters of the seats that were being contested that year. Chadema picked up 15 percent.

    2020 elections

    In a country where reliable and independent political data is scarce and the media is increasingly under threat, analysts said the local polls could set the tone for 2020 presidential, parliamentary and council elections.

    Magufuli, who is expected to run again, has been strongly criticised by watchdogs for the human rights record of his four-year government.

    Free media has been intimidated by draconian cybercrime laws, critical newspapers and bloggers have been silenced, and opposition activists have been harassed, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International.

    Chadema says its activists have been kidnapped and beaten, and at least one has blamed authorities for an attack in 2017 in which he was shot multiple times. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies