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Cablegate: Clear Opposition Victory in Mainland by-Election

VZCZCXRO1324
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHDR #0722/01 2961124
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221124Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY DAR ES SALAAM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7972
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHNR/AMEMBASSY NAIROBI 1031
RUEHKM/AMEMBASSY KAMPALA 3218
RUEHLGB/AMEMBASSY KIGALI 1149
RUEHJB/AMEMBASSY BUJUMBURA 2709
RUEHDS/USMISSION USAU ADDIS ABABA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DAR ES SALAAM 000722

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

AF/E FOR JAMES LIDDLE; INR FOR FEHRENREICH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM TZ
SUBJECT: CLEAR OPPOSITION VICTORY IN MAINLAND BY-ELECTION

REF: DAR 647 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) Summary. Opposition party Chadema held on to its
Tarime parliamentary seat in a hard fought by-election
October 12. Despite low turnout and an aggressive campaign
by the ruling CCM, the Chadema candidate won with a
comfortable margin. An observer mission of diplomatic staff
from the U.S., Canada and several EU countries encountered a
well-run election process. Chadema allegations of widespread
CCM vote-buying and intimidation appeared to be significantly
overblown, although the atmosphere of violence during the
campaign may have contributed heavily to the low turnout.
While the polling was calm, police used tear gas to disperse
crowds of Chadema supporters in Tarime town during the
counting of the votes. Chadema claimed its victory
represented a springboard for major gains in the 2010 general
elections.

2. (U) Chadema candidate Charles Mwera won the Tarime
by-election with 53 percent of the vote. The CCM candidate,
Ryoba Kangoye, took 44 percent, and two candidates of smaller
parties received the remainder (between them, fewer than the
number of spoiled ballots). While lower than the 58 percent
obtained by Chadema in 2005, the margin of victory remained
significant, large enough to head off any potential dispute.
Chadema also won convincingly in the by-election for ward
councilor in Tarime town. With the victory, Chadema retains
its total of five elected seats in parliament, eleven total
including special seats for women. (Note: There are 232
directly elected seats in parliament and 323 total. CCM
holds more than 85 percent. The largest opposition party in
parliament, CUF, has 19 elected seats, 30 total.)

3. (U) Turnout in Tarime declined from around 85 percent in
2005 to 46 percent in 2008. The conventional wisdom that low
turnout would help CCM proved limited, at best. Of the
various explanations we heard for the low turnout, the most
common was that prospective voters had been scared away by
the violence that occurred during the campaign. Others
attributed the low numbers to lack of voter interest in a
by-election, which would have no overall impact on parliament
and did not involve a presidential election.

4. (U) Embassy staff joined with diplomats and Tanzanian
staff from the missions of Canada, UK, Ireland, the
Netherlands, Sweden and the European Commission as accredited
observers for the election. We met with the leading
candidates, election officials and police, attended rallies
the day before the election, and visited numerous polling
stations across the district on election day. We also
observed the counting process, both within individual polling
stations and during the final tabulation at the district
office.

5. (U) Overall, the electoral process appeared to run well
and impartially. Polling stations were managed by two
National Electoral Commission (NEC) officials, and agents
from the two main parties were present. In many polling
stations, the small opposition party NCCR-Mageuzi also had an
agent. The polling stations, which generally opened and
closed on time, were equipped with sufficient ballots, forms
and supplies. The NEC officials and party agents verified
the identity of voters by checking their voting cards - with
picture - against the registration lists. After casting the
ballot, the voter received an ink mark on the left little
finger from a NEC official. While we observed slight
variations in practice and some cases of confusion by the
officials, for the most part the NEC appeared to have trained
them well.

6. (U) After the completion of voting, the NEC officials
meticulously counted the ballots in the presence of the
agents, who had the opportunity to challenge any questionable
votes. In the stations we observed, there were few disputes,
and the NEC officials and party agents all signed the final
results document, which was then posted outside the station.
The checks on the counting process would make tampering
difficult.

7. (U) Outside the polling stations we visited, the situation
remained calm through the voting process. Armed police
officers were stationed outside each group of polling
stations and mobile police units made the rounds. In a few
instances, the observer teams heard accusations of vote

DAR ES SAL 00000722 002 OF 002


buying. In one case, two men allegedly accompanied several
illiterate voters, marking their ballots in exchange for cash
(more usually, illiterate voters would be assisted by the
voter who had just finished casting a ballot); a Chadema
councilwoman asked the police to intervene, and the men were
told to leave the area of the village where voting was taking
place.

8. (U) Tensions heightened once the counting began,
especially in Tarime town. Chadema leaders had told their
supporters to stay near the polling stations to guard against
CCM manipulation. Initial poll results gathered from outside
polling stations showed a Chadema lead. Party faithful on
both sides communicated the results rapidly, mainly by text
message. A heavy rainstorm dampened spirits and likely
prevented many Chadema followers from coming into town after
voting, but crowds gathered outside some of the stations. In
at least one instance, the police dispersed a crowd using
tear gas.

9. (U) The final ballot tabulation was delayed by rain until
the morning of October 13 and lasted for several hours.
During this time, police again used tear gas and fired
warning shots to scatter a crowd of Chadema backers in Tarime
town. By the morning, the Chadema candidate and party
leaders were confident of victory; the CCM candidate
informally acknowledged defeat to members of the observer
team long before the final declaration of a winner. However,
he boycotted the announcement itself and arrived at the
electoral office shortly thereafter to file a complaint.
According to NEC officials, candidates have no standing to
challenge a result except if there are irregularities at
individual polling stations; because the polling stations all
reported complete results, the CCM candidate's only recourse
would be a legal challenge. Senior CCM officials publicly
accepted the election result shortly after Chadema was
declared to have won.

10. (U) Chadema leaders were jubilant after the announcement
that Mwera had won. MP for Kigoma and party activist Zitto
Kabwe crowed over the party's first by-election victory,
which he claimed would serve as a springboard for the 2010
general elections. Kabwe observed that in 2005 there were
some forty districts where the CCM candidate won with less
than a majority because opposition parties were divided. He
said Chadema at least was open to working with the other
opposition parties for 2010.

11. (SBU) Comment. Much of the hype preceding the election,
from both the media and the parties, appeared overblown on
the day itself. While there appeared to be a few cases of
small-scale vote buying, there was no evidence of
comprehensive efforts to subvert the outcome. Similarly,
although concerns about violence may have kept voters away
from the polls - and there may also be some truth to claims
of police intimidation during the campaign - there appeared
to have been no disturbances during the voting. There was no
evidence whatever of tampering with the ballot boxes and the
count. Indeed, the NEC's system ensured that tampering would
have been difficult.
GREEN

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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