The 2020 Tanzanian presidential election has forever had its reputation tainted by fraud allegations and the use of voter suppression tactics. Journalists and politicians of the opposition parties sustained injuries and were subject to harassment, along with the reported deaths of four individuals immediately preceding the election.
Tanzania is a country located in East Africa, formed in 1964 by the union of two separate states named Tanganyika and Zanzibar. They use a plurality method of voting and elections, meaning whichever candidate wins the most votes are elected to the seat, no matter how few votes they get. Tanzania has been under one party rule for decades and has shown very few indications of democratic backsliding, but the authoritarian methods used ensure incumbent victory in the 2020 election surpassed that of any election prior. The ruling party, the CCM (Chama Cha Mapinduzi) has dominated Tanzanian politics along with its predecessor parties since the countries founding. They won the past 5 elections in Tanzania, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015. Amid the 2020 election, the opposition party, the Chadema accused the government of purposefully slowing down the election process by waiting to find oppositional election observers, people who volunteer to ensure a fair election. Also, the National Electoral Commission was accused of not allowing an opposition candidate campaign, while the incumbent Magufuli was allowed to.
Magufuli ended up winning that election, with roughly 84% of the vote. Election statistics like this, where on person absolutely dominates, that lead to suspicion. Similarly, to Russian elections, high polling numbers lead to distrust in the election’s integrity. According to the Tanzania Elections Watch group, heavy military and police presence throughout the election contributed to a culture of fear surrounding voting in opposition to Magufuli, and this could also have contributed to his high levels of support, at least on paper. This group also believes the CCM falsified their numbers when reporting vote counts, and the people they employed to work the ballot boxes were allegedly bought out by the government. The opposition has accused this election process of being full of double counted votes and purposeful miscalculations. Magufuli was elected in 2015, and since then there have been international reports in declining freedoms of assembly, speech, and press. Freedom House categorizes this country as partially free, and the opposition is hardly allowed to criticize the sitting party under Magufuli’s regime. The United States Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs claims to be reviewing credible allegations of misconduct and violence used toward innocent citizens as an intimidation tactic.
Tanzanian authorities also restricted the oppositions access to media, and even suspended a newspaper that consistently reported on them. They also adapted restrictions on the internet with posts that involved the oppositional party, and posts that openly discussed homosexuality. Many outlets of social media were criminalized and outlawed, and some anonymous reporters from Tanzania have said that they were “informally threatened” to not write about things the government would not agree with. The Tanzanian government also employed strict restrictions on the LGBT community, performing forced anal exams to determine homosexual activity, on otherwise unassuming men.
The Tanzanian government limited the influence of non-governmental organizations, keeping them out of the loop and limiting the transparency offered in their election process. The CCM displayed high levels of secrecy in the 2020 presidential elections, leading many to believe there have been underhanded manipulation of their election results. There are large amounts of people who public is being lied to. After greatly restricting their internet to minimize social media usage throughout the election, and an illegitimate victory in favor of a ruler who has been curbing human rights, Tanzania is under an international watchful eye for foul play. This election has been the worst in their history as far as fairness and legitimacy go, and many scholars believe this is a sad first step towards a downward trend.
 “Tanzania: Repression Mars National Elections.” 2020. Human Rights Watch. November 23, 2020.
 “Tanzanians Vote amid Allegations of Violence, Fraud.” n.d. VOA. Accessed October 13, 2022.
 “Tanzania: Freedoms Threatened ahead of Elections.” 2020. Human Rights Watch. September 2, 2020.
 Congressional Research Services. 2020. Review of Tanzania: Recent Governance Trends and 2020 Elections in Brief. Congressional Research Services. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R46579/5.
 “Tanzania Shuts down Newspaper for Publishing Falsehoods | Kubatana.” 2021. Kubatana.net. September 7, 2021.
 “Magufuli Is Transforming Tanzania’s Ruling Party from a ‘Benign Hegemon’ into a Malevolent One.” n.d. Council on Foreign Relations.
 Karombo, Tawanda. 2020. “Tanzania Has Blocked Social Media, Bulk SMS as Its Election Polls Open.” Quartz. October 28, 2020.
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