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Tanzanian voters frustrated at long wait at the polls

media Voter Majuma Saliman Salehe shows her finger after voting with her three-month … Laura-Angela Bagnetto

People came out in record numbers on Sunday to vote for their candidate, but problems began here in Dar es Salaam in the morning after reports indicating that polling stations didn’t have ink or ballot papers.

Waiting since the polls opened, Basil Daniel Manulao is positioned close to the door of the polling station at Umoja Wasichana Kariako primary school in Ilala district, but he told RFI he was frustrated.

“I’m not really sure I’ll vote because I came here at seven, it’s now noon, and the polling stations are closed at four o’clock. I’m not sure I’ll vote, but I’m not giving up,” he said.

These elections are considered the tightest race between current Works Minister John Magufuli from Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the ruling party, and his strong contender, Edward Lowassa, a former prime minister from the Chadema party.

Registered voters have been peacefully waiting to vote, but many expressed frustration that it is taking so long, especially considering they possess biometric voter cards.

Laura-Angela Bagnetto

On local Azam TV’s 2pm broadcast, electoral workers were shown being taken to polling stations because they hadn’t been able to reach the locations they had been assigned to.

At a polling station on Morogoro road in Kagera ward, Majuma Saliman Salehe proudly showed her purple inked finger after voting. Clutching her three-month old daughter Haja Raissa, she was able to go to the front of the line.

“I’m very happy to have elected the leader that I’m sure will win,” she said, adding that it took her only two minutes to vote. She couldn’t understand why it was taking longer for others.

Some saw the long lines in the morning and vowed to return in the afternoon before the polls close at 4pm. Tanzanian voter law says that any registered voter in line at their designated polling station before 4pm will be able to vote.

Laura-Angela Bagnetto

Most people RFI spoke to said they were going to go home after the vote and wait for the results, but Adam Maranga, a civil engineering student at Dar es Salaam University, said he was going to remain in the area.

Maranga said he had faith in the system, but “it’s not 100 percent,” he laughed. “But I do have faith. I’ll just stay around to complete that little percent of [lack of] faith that’s left,” he said.

A truck full of armed police were outside his polling station.

Voters at Kimara Stop Over in Dar es Salaam were upset after they found their polling station with ballots, but no officials or voter’s roll. Police had to escort the National Electoral Commission official out of the station as tempers flared.

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