Tanzania: Election Preparedness - Final Report (MDRTZ028)


A. Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Ahead of October 2020 national Presidential Elections, Tanzania Red Cross Society (TRCS) was granted CHF 142,233 for a DREF operation from the DREF Fund of the International federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), in line with its 2020 national general election contingency plan that focused on both preparedness and response to likely pre and post elections violence. Agreed activities included provision of First Aid (FA) and Psychosocial support (PSS), dissemination of RCRC Principles and peace promotion and provision of emergency WASH services.

The Election Contingency Plan provided for a potential scenario for sporadic violence before, during and after the general elections in 11 hot spot regions according to TRCS pre-election monitoring. Through this DREF funding, and for effective monitoring and coordination of violence, TRCS activated the emergency coordination centre at its NS headquarters in Dar es Salaam that was manned 24 hours pre, during and post the election. On the day of the election, through this centre, TRCS scanned all media platforms both mainstream and social media for updates.

The elections were held on 20th October 2020 with voting process being peaceful with its semi-autonomous Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba voting starting a day before the general election day for civil servants (mostly police) who were to cover the election. Though this is provided for in Zanzibar’s election laws, the main opposition party opposed this fact claiming that it was a plot by the government to rig elections. Their statements to the public ignited violence in both Pemba and Zanzibar islands on the eve of the elections. Injuries and deaths were reported across the two islands with street protests leading to clashes between civilian protestors and the police. TRCS responded and provided on site first aid services, pre-hospital care and medical evacuations to those injured.

Previous elections have relatively been peaceful; however, this election was marred by allegations of irregularities with the opposition disowning the election results even before announcement of final tally and called for public mass action. The government responded by arresting dozens of opposition party officials and members in both Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania with those protesting getting injured while others killed. Election candidates and protesters were arrested, and political parties’ agents restricted to access polling stations. Reports emerged from opposition leaders of multiple voting, pre-ticking of ballots creating tension amongst the population. The government blocked all social media platforms provoking protests and violence. Localised cases of violence were reported in all the mapped-out hotspots, prompting the deployment of Red Cross Action teams. In total, TRCS deployed 800 volunteers from its initial standby 300 volunteers to respond to violence cases who offered first aid services to over 7,300 people and PSS services to over 3,000 others.