By Our Reporter
The election of Tanzania’s next president is set to be held on October 28th, 2020 according to the Electoral Commission, despite the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in the East African country.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Tanzania Electoral Commission said the election campaigns would run from August 26 to October 27.
President John Magufuli, who is the incumbent, will be seeking re-election after being chosen earlier this month as the candidate of the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.
Chadema, the main opposition party, has several candidates vying for the nomination, including Deputy Chairman Tundu Lissu who lives in exile in Belgium after being shot outside his home in 2017, although he survived the attack.
Party leader Freeman Mbowe, who was hospitalised last month with a broken leg after his party said he was beaten in a “politically-motivated” attack, has also announced his intention to run for the presidency.
Meanwhile, former Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Membe last week switched allegiance from CCM to the opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT Wazalendo), and is seeking their nomination to run against Magufuli.
Tanzanians will also vote on the same day to elect members of parliament and local councilors, according to the Electoral Commission.
The opposition has since called for the formation of an independent Electoral Commission, expressing fears that the elections will take place in a climate of violence and intimidation if an independent commission is not put in place. Magufuli has since pledged “free and fair” polls.
It should be noted that this comes at a time when the Tanzanian government is being accused of a COVID-19 cover up.
President Magufuli, who took office in 2015, is promising to crack down on corruption and expand the country’s road and railway network, although he is being accused of narrowing freedoms and increasing authoritarianism.
During his first term, several newspapers have been shut down, and the works of non-governmental organisations have been severely restricted, with rights groups and opposition parties accusing Magufuli’s government of curbing human rights. However, the government has since denied seeking to stifle dissent.
Meanwhile, opposition politicians and critics in recent months have accused authorities of covering up the true extent of the Coronavirus pandemic.
This came up after opposition politicians observed that Tanzania has not updated its number of virus cases since late April, and Magufuli has declared COVID-19 defeated.
The President has since recommended prayer, exercise and herbal medicines as the best ways to combat the pandemic, but also reminds Tanzanians to wash their hands regularly.
On Monday, Magufuli reiterated his claim that Tanzania has no COVID-19 patients, and urged international tourists to visit the East African country.
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