2010 elections … challenges
It is another year when our country, United Republic of Tanzania, holds General Elections. Under the new system – all voters get registered in the Permanent Voters’ Register. The Register started being used in 2005. Therefore, there are already many people registered in there. However, there are people who need to update their information – some have moved from one ward/district/region to another. At the same time there are those who have already clocked 18 years old and some will continue to do so in the next months up to October. The second category will enter for the first time in the Register.
This time around, the Election Commission is in Dar to for one week to update the Register. I visited one such registration points/stations for the purpose of updating my data in the Voters’ Register.
Registration point at Mongolandege Primary School, Ukonga Ward, Dar es Salaam.
An official of the Commission taking a voter a photo.
Equipments to facilitate photo taking. The process has been digitalised and solar energy is in use. This is one of the good aspects of the process.
Voters waiting for their turns to have themselves registered in the Permanent Voters’ Register.
I arrived at the point/station at 7.50am. There were already about 40 people there. The officials had not yet arrived. The registration is supposed to start at 8.00 am. When it reached 8.00am – the official in charge of photo taking arrived. When we inquired about the whereabout of the official responsible for registration, we were told that she was still at the Ward offices to c0llect some of the materials that had run out of stock on the previous day. The latter arrived at the point/station at around 8.45am.
Several questions come to mind:
1. Are there no supervisors appointed to visit the registration points/stations to evaluate general conditions, quality of service and if necessary ensure that the materials that are about to get finished are brought in time to ensure connectivity of the process?
2. If a street is estimated to have more than 500 voters – why would the Commission post just two officials there – one photographer and one person to assist in the registration process? Remember, registering one person is a process that takes an average of 15 minutes. So, just image how much time is lost for people at registration stations especially when there are 40/400/1000 people to register.
3. Is one week sufficient for undertaking this process, especially in urban areas? I doubt it.
4. Why is Sunday excluded from the process – in urban settings – most voters are workers or business persons – they work far from their homes and their only chance could be Sunday?
It is the right of each and every Tanzanian above the age of 18 to get registered in the Permanent Voters’ Register. It is time the responsible Commission figures out how to ensure that there is sufficient time for each and everyone of them to get registered. It would be more appropriate, in my opinion, if the registration process could continue for one whole month. Another way of doing it was for street leaders and officials from the Commission to visit people in their homes and do the registration there, yes, why not?