Monday, October 5, 2015

Tanzania: Colleges to be closed during elections

(Xinhua) Tanzania's National Council for Technical Education (NACTE) has directed all colleges to remain closed to allow students to participate in the general election slated for October 25.

Mr Adold Rutayuga, NACTE Acting Executive Secretary Adolf Rutayuga, said principals of all colleges should ensure that they do not lock out students from participating in the elections.

"Colleges that have already been opened, we direct that they be closed one week before election and another week after the polls," Mr Rutayuga told a news conference in the nation's commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

Last month, the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU) issued a similar directive ordering all higher learning institutions to re-open until after the general election.

TCU Executive Director, Prof Yunusu Mgaya, said all universities will re-open in November. There are 200,986 students in higher learning institutions in the country.

The European Union (EU) election observation mission said it will ensure that the forthcoming Tanzania elections were transparent and peaceful.


Judith Sargentini, the chief observer of the EU election observation mission, said her mission's mandate will be to observe all aspects of the electoral process and assess how the elections complied with Tanzanian laws.

Over 23 million out of a population of 46 million Tanzanians will go to polls on October 25 to elect the president, Members of Parliament and councillors.

The presidential candidate for the ruling party -Chama Cha Mapinduzi, John Magufuli, is facing fierce competition from Edward Lowassa who is contesting on the ticket on leading opposition party - Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema).

Chadema is campaigning on a coalition of three other opposition parties of Civic United Front (CUF), National League for Democracy and NCCR-

"Both candidates seem to be propagating similar policies... such as fighting graft, conquering poverty, solving unemployment and land disputes," University of Dar es Salaam lecturer Benson Bana has said.

Analysts have warned that the unusually tight race could spark tensions.

"While the CCM clearly has some strong electoral advantages, there are growing indications that its long-term grip on power is continuing to dissipate," former top US diplomat to Africa Johnnie Carson wrote for African Arguments.

"A tight election or the perception of a rigged outcome could increase the chance of post-election violence in what has been one of Africa's leading democracies and most peaceful countries."


Change is inevitable with Kikwete standing down -- unlike neighbouring Burundi where President Pierre Nkurunziza defied violent protests to win a third term in July, or Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo, where leaders are believed to be wanting to run once again.

Lowassa joined the opposition after losing to Magufuli in his bid to become the party's presidential candidate in July.

Both Magufuli and Lowassa have made repeated calls for the preservation of peace and national unity in speeches denouncing tribalism and religious violence.

Those fears are real, analysts say.

Despite impressive economic growth, little of that has trickled down to the majority, and the country remains very poor by regional and international standards, the World Bank says.

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