TANZANIANS yesterday cast their votes peacefully, with citizens, government officials, and security forces commending the National Electoral Commission (NEC) for proper preparations.
The polling exercise that provided Tanzanians with the opportunity of choosing leaders who will steer the country for the next five years, was held after campaigns that lasted for two months.
Speaking after casting the vote, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro said from the observation he had made and reports he had received from across the country, the exercise went peaceful as there was no violence that was recorded.
The IGP nodded to the electoral body for setting up enough polling stations that helped voters to spend less time in the queues.
“So far, there is no incident that has occurred, we hope that the exercise will end peacefully with Tanzanians getting leaders of their choice from today’s (yesterday) polls,” he said.
He supported remarks made by Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC) Mr. Abubakar Kunenge, who also commended the returning officers for being supportive and effectively guiding voters who turned out in the polling stations.
“I’m humbled to witness that NEC has scientifically organized the election… there are plenty of polling stations and I have not experienced any challenge during the voting process; the returning officers have been so helpful in facilitating the exercise,” he said.
Elsewhere, residents of Arusha city yesterday braved the morning chill and drizzles to cast their ballots in this year’s General Election.
As it was expected, the city witnessed high voters’ turnout, with many eager to exercise their constitutional right in a peaceful manner.
Polling stations were open as early as 7 am, with people from different walks of life electing leaders of their preferences. At least 374,000 residents within the city were expected to cast their ballots, according to the City Council Director Dr. John Pima.
“We’ve not had any hitches so far, everything is calm and security at all polling stations was at a top-notch,” said Mr. Pima when fielding questions from the ‘Daily News’.
In Morogoro, hundreds of thousands of voters turned out to cast their votes yesterday at various polling stations.
Peace prevailed in most parts of Morogoro Region, which has a total of 11 constituencies with over 1.6 million voters and 4774 polling stations.
In Morogoro Urban constituency voters started flocking the polling stations from as early as 7 am.
Morogoro Regional Police Commander (RPC), Wilbroad Mutafungwa, said he had communicated with district police commanders who have informed him that no hitches were recorded and everything went smoothly.
The atmosphere was calm; peace prevailed in almost all constituencies in Dar es Salaam with an exception of a minor incident that was reported in Kawe, where the police force had to whisk away the Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) parliamentary contestant after a brief moment of gripe.
Voters at various polling stations queued systematically as security officers were watchful. From around 12 pm, most polling stations received fewer voters because many voters showed up early in the morning.
Temeke Municipal Director Lusubilo Mwakabibi, who is an election returning officer for Temeke and Mbagala constituencies, told the ‘Daily News’ that the two constituencies consist of a big number of voters compared to all other constituencies in Dar es Salaam.
The two constituencies have over 900,000 registered voters, Mr. Mwakabibi noted. He added that between 80 and 90 percent of voters showed up at voting stations before mid-afternoon. The two constituencies have a total of 2,213 polling stations.
A spot survey conducted at Ugombolwa and Machimbo Wards in Segerea Constituency witnessed the voting exercise going on smoothly. Voters were seen taking a very short time to complete the whole voting process and head back to their homes.
In some areas, according to the survey, some of the voters could not easily access their names due to the relocation of the polling stations.
In Ukonga and Ubungo constituencies, the ‘Daily News’ observed short lines and with voters spending not more than 30 minutes from the minute of their arrival at the polling station to complete the exercise.
The election supervisor of Velena-5 polling station in Gongo Lamboto ward in Ukonga, Ms. Martha Kahinga said that though it rained, voters showed up to cast their votes.
While in Ubungo constituency, Ubungo ward, and Kisiwani-4 polling station, the Returning Officer Mr. Philipo Mwakibinda remarked that the response was average and the process was smooth. “The polling has been favorable to all kinds of people,” he commended.
In Mtwara, a calm and peaceful atmosphere prevailed yesterday as the citizens turned out to exercise their right to vote freely.
Until 4 pm, there was no tension or fear reported in any of the polling stations in Mtwara Urban and elsewhere in the region.
Speaking to reporters at around 4:30 pm, the Returning Officer Emmanuel Mwaigobeko said the polling stations opened at 7 am and closed at 4 pm and that there was no hiccup recorded.