Why and how some Ugandans have voted in Tanzania elections

Kyotera, Uganda | URN | Some Ugandan Nationals living along the Mutukula border in Kyotera district have reportedly participated in the elections exercise in the neighboring Tanzania.

Voters in the Republic of Tanzania on Wednesday 28, October 2020 participated in a general election to chose their President, Members of the National Assembly and Local Council leaders.

However, some of the Ugandans living along Mutukula crossed the border to cast votes in the Tanzania border district of Misenyi.

They explained to how and why they voted in Tanzania

From our interviews, it transpires that to some people consider themselves as belonging to both countries and with their livelihoods and families existing on either side, they just go ahead and exercise their right to choose the leaders they want to manage their affairs.

Rashid Mawanda, a boda boda rider in Mutukula town council is among the dozens of Ugandans that participated in the Tanzanian elections. He says despite him being in possession of a Ugandan National Identification-ID card, he also obtained a Tanzanian Voters Card, one of the requirements to vote in Tanzania.

Mawanda explains that many people especially those living along the border and are fluent in Kiswahali could easily register as voters in Tanzania while some obtained IDs as well.

Hamid Jabar Kakuru, a cross border trader in Mutukula who also participated in the elections argues that many Ugandans have multiple residencies and families inside Tanzania hence freely participating in its affairs including elections.

He however indicates that those who didn’t pass the red tape during the registration exercise were turned away and their names have not featured on the voters’ registers.

Asked about the interest of participating in the affairs of a foreign country, Kigongo argues that it helps them freely interact with communities in both countries and smoothly transact business on the either sides of the border.

One of the polling assistants at Kabakesa polling station, one of Tanzania’s border villages who spoke on conditions on anonymity noted that they cannot rule out possibilities of Ugandans participating in the election explaining that they allowed everybody who presented any of the requirements set by their National Electoral Commission.

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According to him, the voters were validated on appearance in the voter registers, presenting of Tanzania National IDs, Voter’s Cards or a Passport, saying some none citizens could have unscrupulously obtained any of the requirements.

Notably, the elections in Tanzania were conducted amid shutdown of the internet and all social media that started on Tuesday 27th, October 2020.

The tight race is between the incumbent President John Pombe Magufuli of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party and Tundu Lissu of the Chadema Party, alongside other 13 candidates.