As Tanzania prepares for the forthcoming general elections, voter registration still remains one of the challenges facing the National Electoral Commission (NEC) in the East African Country. Earlier in the year, the country postponed the holding of the constitutional referendum after NEC announced that a lot of people had not been captured in the Voters Register. It is estimated that over 20 million people are eligible to vote in this year’s referendum and general elections.
Local media reports that concerns have been raised by political stakeholders over the registration of voters. Issues that have been raised include slow deployment of Biometric Voters Registration (BVR) machines as well as the use of local authorities alone in the registration exercise. Some political leaders have accused the local authorities of lacking the necessary capacity to conduct voter registration using BVR technology.
The shortage of BVR kits in many parts of the country is consequently affecting the progress in capturing as many eligible voters as possible less than 3 months before the country goes to the polls. Not only have the BVR machines been under-deployed, the few available have not operated without glitches.
Fingers are already being pointed at the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Party by some opposition party figures who allege that the under-deployment of BVR machines has been especially widespread in opposition strongholds, a move they accuse CCM as being aimed at disenfranchising those who will vote against it.
President Jakaya Kikwete will be stepping down in October this year after being in office for two terms, the maximum allowed by Tanzania constitution.