Monday, October 26, 2015

Elections 2015: The National Electoral Commission's Uphill Battle

As I type I am watching Justice Lubuva remind the public that the NEC are the only source of official election results. He is literally waving signed papers at the camera to prove that they aren't "fake." Unfortunately, NEC and ZEC are not doing themselves any favors what with the delays.

With every six hours that pass, tensions are heightened. As of last night people have been asking for official announcements of the results at the polling stations and from NEC and ZEC for confirmation. Because let's just say that more than one institution/party/community/individual is "absolutely certain" of what the results are (or should be?). 

We're watching a public institution fight a difficult battle over legitimacy of results with the media, with parties, with a whole host of actors some of which are shady for sure. And at the pace at which Judge Lubuva is reading... people, I can't even comprehend how in 2015 we're still down to one old man reading out from a spreadsheet. Maybe it could be multiple old men? I dunno, something. Time, time is of essence. 

Noted: the majority of the reporting so far (and I am going by AzamTV's numbers) reflect areas where CCM is winning. But the ratios are really low, we are very far from a complete picture at the council level. At the Presidential level similar kind of story. Meanwhile there have been a lot of non-NEC declarations and statements at press conferences. Which all adds up to: what's actually taking so long and why does this look like bias?

Also noted: Every so often someone will spare the time to scrutinize the international press' coverage and address any areas of concern, as one @joetrippi learned today. This is feeding into a very interesting and perhaps overdue dialogue about narratives both local and international- who, what did they say, how did they say it, why? The local argument we've been having for months. The international one though is new and I suspect has caught a few by surprise. Upole si udhaifu...

N'kay. Going back to watching footage of trouble spots to get a general sense of the security Not all the 'peace and stability' in Tanzania is a spontaneous manifestation of good character. There is a social contract at play here, and I want to see how both sides are holding up.


  1. Thanks Elsie for yet another interesting look at the general election. I was able to follow the 2010 election in some detail but I have missed out this one. One thing that fascinates me is the strong discourse of Amani na Umoja in Tanzania. It seems to me like that Tanzanian politicians appeal very strongly to shared sense of national character; that Tanzanians are more upole than their Kenyan and Ugandan neighbours. From your last comments you touched on this issue. It would be interesting if you could elaborate on the relationship between an imagined national character and a sense of social contract; particularly what this contract means in practise: Is it that politicians and people in general should not engage in fractional politics (ukabila & udini)? Does it draw on the moral values ujamaa (ushirikiano etc)? And so forth? Please enlighten us!

  2. Hi A. N. Mouse, thanks for your comment.

    The thing about a shared sense of national character as you term it is a part of our social contract that is maintained dynamically, not passively. There actually is something one could call the Tanzanian Dream, if you will. The national character is not imagined so much as fabricated and consolidated repeatedly. The social contract(s) are constantly being negotiated between classes mostly but also sometimes religions and geographic localities and acceptable uses of force. Sasa, it is very hard to explain the complexity of this kind of political dynamism coupled with a strong tradition of cohesion. so-called 'upole' is a product of this, not the cause.

    There isn't a sort answer to your question. What does one do with an African polity that is smart, dynamic, challenged, diverse, layered and seriously complex? Blog about it ;)


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