This report was jointly prepared by two institutions forming CEMOT; namely, Tanzania Civil Society Consortium on Election Observation (TACCEO) and Tanzania Election Monitoring Committee (TEMCO).


         The 2015 general election in Tanzania is the fifth after re-introduction of multiparty politics. This election is held in accordance with the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania (1977) and the Zanzibar Constitution of 1984 together with accompanying legislations on both sides. The general election if for the election of the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Members of the Parliament, and Councilors; and in Zanzibar, voters also elect the President of Zanzibar and Members of House of Representatives.

According to the legal frameworks, National Electoral Commission (NEC) and the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) are entrusted with managing the elections. These two electoral bodies have legal mandate to manage the entire election cycle including provision of voter education, registration of voters, demarcation of constituency boundaries, voting, vote counting and declaration of results.

Tanzania is party to various international treaties on elections including International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and the East African Protocol on Good Goverance. In line with provisions of some of these treaties and in upholding the principles of transparency, Tanzania has been inviting international observers to witness its electoral process.

Election observation using international and domestic observers has continued to be a critical area in the electoral processes in Africa because it aims to ensure crediblity, transparency, freeness and fairness in the whole process of election. Domestic observers have an added duty to provide oversight as they are also part of the citizens of the concerned country. They also have a unique role in collecting and disseminating election related information to the larger community.

Election observation through the Election Observation Centre enabled civil society organizations to collect information and data, and provided an opportunity to election managers to rapidly and timely respond to any obtaining situation that was likely to adversely affect the quality of the election outcome. Election Observation Centre which infused Information and Communications Technology depended on multiple stakeholders’ cooperation in order to bring out the desired outcomes. Having credible information from election observers in the field and ability to analyze it offered an opportunity for a synergy among election managers and election observers. Election Observation Centre departs from the traditional election observation which relied on issuance of a final report when elections are concluded thus minimizing the chance for real time intervention as elections are underway.

Briefly, the goals of Election Observation Centre were to:

  1. collect information on the important episodes on the electoral process in all constituencies;
  2. analyze the information on the electoral process with the aim of timely improvement of the process;
  3. deploy long term and short term observers in all constituencies in Tanzania; and
  4. conduct media analysis including the social media in order to assess fairness of coverage and adherence to media code of conduct for elections. 
In that context, the Coalition on Election Monitoring and Observation in Tanzania (CEMOT) observed the electoral processes especially election campaigns, voting, vote counting, declaration of results and post-election episodes. In so doing, CEMOT juxtaposed the conduct of various election stakeholders against the provisions of the constitution, rules, laws and regulations governing election in Tanzania. The major intention was to facilitate timely intervention and rapid responses to conflict prone developments.

Based on the CEMOT goals, the election observation was guided by the following principles:

  1. Unrestricted participation to all citizens;
  2. Equal opportunity to all electoral participants;
  3. Professionalism, transparency and objectivity in the preparation for election.

CEMOT observation was also informed by the past experiences and the analysis of various observers of the 2010 election. The observation focused on the following areas:

  1. Political participation 
  2. Rights and opportunities to eligible voters
  3. Rights and opportunities to contestants
  4. Transparency of the election management bodies
  5. Accountability of the election management bodies
  6. Conflict resolution and management processes and arrangement

CEMOT observed the election campaigns, voting, vote counting and declaration of results. Observers were deployed in the field for 44 days starting from the last week of September. CEMOT observation revealed the following:
  1. Political parties and contestants participated in the election without any unnecessary hitches. However, names of a few voters were missing in the voters’ list hence they failed to vote. 
  2. Political parties and contestants participated freely although women were still lagging behind as contestants. They, however, formed the majority of the voters, constituting 53 percent of registered voters.
  3. The electoral commissions performed their duties and responsibilities in accordance with the law and the practice. However, they need to improve in some areas.
  4. The complaint and appeal process of the National Electoral Commission needs to be constantly improved.
  5. The constitution and the laws of the country form the foundation of conflict resolution and management during the election process. These need to be reviewed to allow for presidential election results to be contested in the courts of law. 

Tanzanians voted on 25th October 2015. They elected the Union President, Members of Parliament and Councillors. This was held alongside the Zanzibar election whereby the Zanzibaris also elected the President of Zanzibar and Members of the House of Representatives. The Union presidential election attracted eight aspirants (one female candidate), 1,250 aspirants for Parliamentary seats (238 women), and 10,879 aspirants for councillorship. There were 14 contestants for the Zanzibar presidency, although the stiff competition was between CCM and CUF.

In assessing the election process, CEMOT focused on three indicators. The first was the compliance with political equality: the right to vote, the right to be elected and the right to receive information. The second was the transparency of the process and the voters’ right to listen to contestants and political party manifestos so as to have an informed choice of candidate. And the third was accountability of election management bodies, efficiency in decision making as well as taking swift action in cases of breaches of the laws, rules and regulations.

2.1 Right to elect and to be elected
According to the National Bureau of Statistics and the Office of the Chief Statistician in Zanzibar, it was estimated that Tanzania had 48,522,228, people, whereas 24,252, 541 were eligible voters. According to NEC, 23,161,440 voters were registered; 11,950,200 of registered voters were women, equivalent to 53 percent. Registration statistics show the distribution of voters by age as follows: voters between 18-35 years were 12,894,576 (57 percent) whereby 6,738,964 were women; between 36-50 years were 5,690,668 (25 percent) whereby women were 2,946,247; and those above 50 were 4,165,544 (18 percent) whereby women were 2,264,990. In Tanzania voter registration is critical as it is a prerequisite for voting.

2.2 Right to be elected
As independent candidature is proscribed in Tanzania, to be elected one has to secure a party nomination. This has given political parties an upper hand in deciding who to contest for what post. In many political parties nomination criteria are not transparent, denting the party internal democracy. The Political Parties Act does not compel political parties to have in place a mechanism for ensuring equal representation between men and women as well as other groups within the society.

2,3 Nomination of Women
Of the 1,250 contestants for parliamentary seats, only 238 (19 percent) were women. Many women picked the nomination forms within political parties but were screened out during the initial stages. The ratio is even worse for councillorship contestants whereby of the 10,879 contestants, women were only 679 (6.2percent percent).

There is no significant change in the number of women contesting as compared to the 2010 election. In 2010 there were 1,036 parliamentary contestants, only 191 were women (18 percent). This means that despite all the domestic and international efforts, the situation is not changing. The statistics serve as testimony that there is a long way to go in having an alternative socio-political system that would bring about gender equality in politics and that deliberate efforts should continue to be employed towards achieving this goal.

Women face numerous hurdles that constrain their participation in politics. Some of the constraints include the claim that women lack experience and the election system is based on a wrong assumption about women participation. Practices emanating from the entrenched partriachy system have continued to dominate political processes, including the election. Gender based violence is also seen to discourage women’s participation. Political parties have not firmly committed themselves to bring about changes from within. Many decisions on women participation are made by political parties based on the discriminatory ideology.

Women parliamentary contestants

Source: NEC

Women parliamentary contestants in some political parties are as follows: CCM (9 percent), CHADEMA (6 percent), ACT-Wazalendo (15 percent), CUF (11 percent) and other political parties have 36 percent. If this trend is left to take a normal progression without any interventions, it would take Tanzania 155 years to reach the 50/50 target as enshrined in the Maputo Protocol, AU Declaration, the Proposed Constitution and the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania. However, generally, CEMOT observers did not witness or hear abusive or derogatory language directed to women contestants. Only five percent heard about sexual corruption; only nine percent heard about abusive language being used; whereas two percent heard about physical assault to contestants; and two percent heard about arbitrary arrests of women contestants.


The youth aged between18-35 constituted 12,894,576 (57 percent) of electorate, among them women are 6,738964. The youth have been a trump card to political parties. Aggregated statistics of contestants by age are scant. Political parties use the youth as a bridge to cross over to power. Also to win their support, contestants have advanced the youth agenda including employment, free education, vocational training, and political empowerment. The youth have also been instigators and victims of violence and have constituted a majority of those apprehended by the Police suspected of various electoral related aggressions.

2.5 Participation of people with disabilities

Census data show that people with disabilities constitute about 5.8 percent of the population, although they do not show how many are eligible to vote. Various steps have been taken to ensure effective participation of this group. For example, braille was prepared for the visually impaired so as to facilitate their voting. CEMOT observation reveals about half of the observers saw special ballot papers for the visually impaired. In the remaining half it could be that observers did not come across anybody with visual impairment who needed the braille.


3.1 National Electoral Commission
Management of elections is a constitutional prerogative of the National Electoral Commission. NEC has the mandate to oversee the implementation of all election activities in the election cycle.

3.2 Voter Registration
For the first time Tanzania used the Biometric Voter Registration technology. BVR was acclaimed as a system that would ease voter identification, reduce chances of double registration and sealing off the possibility of voting more than once. Despite hitches NEC was able to register over 97 percent of the eligible voters.

3.3 Voter education
Reports of CEMOT observers showed that voter education was scantily provided although the intensity increased towards the Election Day. The figure below shows voter education by NEC and ZEC, CSOs and political parties.

3.4 Election preparedness

CEMOT observers probed about NEC’s election preparedness especially for the critical Election Day. The findings are as follows:

  • By 22nd October, three days ahead of the election, in 3,657 polling stations visited, 55 percent had voters list posted outside. 
  • 55 percent of observers attested that political parties were availed with the polling station information by NEC.
  • 58 percent of observers saw the election announcement.

The Chart below shows the election preparedness

3.5 Election Campaigns

The campaign timetable was jointly prepared by political parties and NEC. Generally, the political parties adhered to the campaign timetable thus averting clashes that could happen if two political parties claimed a right to use the same venue at the same time. Regarding parliamentary election campaigns, however, political parties and contestants failed to abide by the timetable. Whereas they had slots in the timetable, many political parties did not show up in venues shown. Only a handful of political parties maintained consistency throughout the campaign period. In many cases campaign rallies were held in the afternoon and the morning session was almost unused.

The Chart below shows the hitches and problem in organizing campaigns

As Shown in the chart above, overall election campaigns proceeded smoothly without any interference from NEC/ZEC, the police, or other political parties.

3.6 Voting, vote counting and declaration of results
Opening of polling stations

Reports from CEMOT observers indicate that many polling stations opened on time and voting commenced as earlier planned. Out of 6,444 polling stations observed, 6,080 (94 percent) opened on time.

The chart below provides information on opening of polling stations.

Source: CEMOT Field Reports

Reports also show that in all observed polling stations there were at least three election officials.

Adequacy of voting materials

Reports from CEMOT observers point out that 5,921 polling stations (90 percent) out of 6,579 polling stations that were observed had adequate voting materials, and 658 polling stations (10 percent) experienced shortage of voting materials especially rubber stamps.

Other observations include:
  1. In 1,224 polling stations (18 percent) out of 6,579 polling stations observed, there were names of a few voters which were missing in the voters’ register;
  2. CCM had party agents in 6,475 polling stations out of the observed (98 percent), CHADEMA/UKAWA had party agents in 6,351 of the observed polling stations (97 percent), while the rest of political parties had party agents in 4,585 of polling stations observed (70 percent);
  3. The observed 6,259 polling stations (95 percent) had police officers in plain clothes;
  4. The observed 6,075 polling stations (92 percent) were accessible by people with disabilities.

Voting process

Cemot observed the voting process in 5, 770 polling centres up to 07.00pm on the Election Day, and it found that:
  1. Voter ID verification was witnessed in 5,736 polling stations (99 percent) out of 5,770 observed polling stations;
  2. Only 245 polling stations (4 percent) had signs of campaigning or campaign materials within the 200 meters perimeter; 
  3. Checking for signs of indelible ink was done in 5,161 polling stations (89 percent);
  4. CEMOT observers found that in 5,680 polling stations (98 percent) there was inking of voters after voting.
  5. At the closing time, that is 04.00 pm, 2,492 of the observed polling stations people were still in the queue waiting to vote;
  6. The last person voted between 05.00pm - 05.30pm in 824 observed polling stations (14 percent).
Vote counting

CEMOT observers were present in 5,325 polling stations that were converted into counting stations. Their findings are presented as follows:

  1. The counting of votes in 2,206 polling stations (41 percent) commenced immediately after closing time, 04.00 pm.
  2. The vote counting in 1,280 polling stations commenced between 04.30pm - 05.00pm.
  3. Only 112 polling stations (2 percent) allowed unauthorized persons in the counting stations.
  4. Political party agents in 561 polling stations (11 percent) contested the results and refused to sign the forms, whereas in 471 polling stations (9 percent) political party agents demanded a vote recount. 
  5. CEMOT observers witnessed posting of election results outside the counting stations for various posts as follows: 5,013 polling stations (94 percent) of presidential election, parliamentary election 4,887 polling stations (92 percent), and councillorship 5,038 polling stations (96 percent). 
  6. Election results in 2,309 centres (43 percent) were posted within half an hour of completion of vote counting; 1,483 centres (28 percent) posted the results between half an hour to one hour after completion of vote counting, whereas in 1,533 polling stations (29 percent) it took more than one hour to post the election results outside the counting stations. 
  7. CEMOT heard of claims of delayed announcement of results in some constituencies including: Mbagala, Kinondoni, Ubungo, Kibamba, Kawe, Mbozi, Iringa Urban, Temeke, Ilala, Simanjiro, Babati, Nyamagana, Ukonga, Segerea, and Shinyanga Urban. In some cases the standoffs degenerated into chaotic situation leading to breakdown of order and destruction of properties. 
  8. The decision of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission to annul the Zanzibar election had sparked heated debates. Up to the time of the annulment, CEMOT observers had not noticed any serious breach or irregularity that could warrant such a emergence measure. 


Based on the election observation set criteria, despite some isolated shortcomings, the campaigns and the voting, vote counting and declaration of results proceeded smoothly and largely adhered to the established norms and legislations.

Political parties and contestants were free to participate in the electoral process in all the stages. People turned out massively to listen to contestants during the campaign rallies organized by political parties. However, some people missed the opportunity to vote as their names were not included in the voters’ roll. In future such anomalies should be minimized. Women participation has proven to be lagging behind and conserted efforts still need to be taken to redress this historic imbalance.

Although generally the election in Tanzania was conducted in a peaceful atmosphere, was free, and the results reflect the will of the people, NEC and other election stakeholders should take this election as a learning experience for future improvement. CEMOT recommends the following for future improvements of the conduct of elections:

  1. NEC needs to be more transparent and should aspire for a wider stakeholder involvement. NEC should ensure that its communication strategy is strengthened. NEC should be in a position to offer clarification to the public in a timely manner to avoid spread of rumours that might undermine the credibility of the election process. 
  2. NEC’s appellate structures need to be improved to enable timely and swift decisions on electoral matters.
  3. There is a need for a serious review of the electoral legislation in order to improve stakeholders’ confidence in the electoral commission. Such review should address the perennial issues around the independence of the electoral commission, its composition, contesting presidential results in the courts of law and allow the independent candidature.

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