ZANZIBARIS turned out in their thousands to cast votes in the calm 2020 General Election here yesterday.
Even the morning downpour that pounded Zanzibar City and its environs could not deter the determined voters from casting their ballots and electing their leaders for the next five years.
The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) presidential candidate Dr Hussein Mwinyi voted at Kariakoo polling centre within Kwahani constituency while his ACT-Wazalendo counterpart Seif Sharif Hamad cast his vote at Garagara playgrounds centre.
Vice-President and Union presidential running mate Ms Samia Suluhu Hassan voted at SOS Children’s Village-hosted centre while Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein cast his ballot at Unguja Central District’s Bungi polling station.
Speaking immediately after voting, Dr Mwinyi commended the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) for the superb organisation of the election and encouraged all registered Islanders to turn up and choose their preferred leaders.
“The election process is good so far, it’s peaceful,” said the presidential aspirant who arrived at the polling center at 8:24 am and queued for almost quarter an hour before finally voting at 8:38 am.
The prospective First Lady, Mariam Mwinyi, accompanied her husband and cast her vote through on a different booth.
Mr. Hamad, meanwhile, voted at 8.16 am at Garagara playgrounds and immediately after the exercise, he told members of local and international media outside the polling station that he was satisfied with the turn-out.
“I have already exercised by democratic right…and the big turnout at many polling stations indicates my triumph,” said Mr Hamad, who contests for the Isles top office for the sixth time.
In the previous five elections, the veteran politician represented the Civic United Front (CUF) party but defected to ACT-Wazalendo ahead of this year’s polls.
ADA-TADEA candidate Juma Ali Khatibu cast his vote at Kiembesamaki Primary School, expressing hopes of winning.
“This year’s election has been well organised…I advise my colleagues to accept the results as the electorates would have decided,” he said.
Other high profile voters at Kiembesamaki centre included former Vice-President Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal, Zanzibar’s sixth phase president Aman Abeid Karume and House of Representatives Speaker Zubeir Ali Maulid, among others.
They all commended the election as tranquil and well organised, encouraging eligible voters to rush to the polling centres to exercise their democratic right.
Zanzibar remained quiet yesterday, with police vehicles patrolling the streets to guarantee safety and security. At least 566,352 Zanzibaris registered for this year’s election.
The Islanders were electing their president, Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Representatives, councilors and the Union president. Seventeen political parties have fielded candidates in the presidential race although the fiercely competing parties are CCM and ACT-Wazalendo.
Almost all polling centres in Unguja opened at 7:00am and had to close at 4:00pm subject to the number of voters on the lines.
According to ZEC guidelines, nobody was to be allowed into the voting queue after 4:00am but all people already queuing had to vote irrespective of the 4pm deadline.