TODAY fellow citizens are off to the Polling Stations here in Tanzania mainland.
For Zanzibar they began yesterday for special people that is to say people living with disabilities among others. We know and expect that soon after the elections, the announcement of the official results will follow, then the inauguration ceremony, and in not a long time, the formation of a new government will take place.
These are wonderful moments for a country whose elections go smooth and peace is protected. All that said, however, there is a task ahead for all Tanzanians. After elections, wananchi will have to take another important but challenging journey.
It will be a voyage characterized by a core moral responsibility for the nation to protect peace at whatever cost. And this is true because globally it is agreed that elections are key for fostering peace and stability in any transitional settings.
Elections are also often, as a result, one of the central elements of peace deals and transitional political accords across the globe. So the core responsibility of Tanzanians shall be to protect the peace they have enjoyed since independence.
The good thing about my country is this; usually - since Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, the founding father of the nation days, peaceful elections have been guaranteed and what should be the norm today iselections should offer promising opportunities to engage in deliberative preventative action.
This is possible because they were scheduled well in advance. I am optimistic that this will happen today and in the next few days to come. But who should spearhead a robust Tanzanian traditional style of peace to effectively prevent the unlikely event of hiccups?
Well, everyone is responsible for this nation’s peace wherever they are. It means, each one’s duty shall be to protect our communities from anyone who may want to manipulate public perception and encourage violence along commonly known lines- be it tribal or party affiliation, to mention a few.
My article title highlights and uses the words ‘all differences’ to indicate that in any election, it is not possible at all for wananchi to have that sameness in political preferences. That is why we have parities and therefore elections to guarantee democracy. So people will have different opinions and vary in their position.
The encouraging sign in all this comes from our experience which demonstrates the significance, in terms of helping wananchi remain calm. The calmness has its source. I see it as credited to an effective and independent electoral management body and judiciary in ensuring the risk of election-related challenges are avoided.
In my view, if citizens have confidence in the integrity of the electoral process, they are therefore less likely to cause problems. Why should we then be optimistic about tranquility after elections? Well, in my view there are a few important reasons to highlight on.
First, throughout the process up until yesterday and tomorrow wananchi of Tanzania and Zanzibar did demonstrate their commitment to democracy by engaging keenly with the process.
I know there were a number of hiccups here and there when few candidates were crossing the line of the General Elections Code of Conduct, and seemed to forget that they had already signed and committed to abide by guidelines to ensure peaceful campaigning, freedom of campaigning and compliance with applicable laws and regulations. This was not good.
I am glad it was contained. Generally speaking I think I am right to say candidates largely exhibited tolerance during the campaigns, and I hope that voters will turn up in significant numbers to cast their votes in a peaceful and orderly manner so that ours, once again, becomes a credible and peaceful voting process.
Secondly, wananchi hope for sustainable peace and democracy. To this point therefore, I call upon all candidates, especially after elections, to live up to the expectations of the people made clear during campaigns which were largely peaceful, with an air of festivity and optimism. This is what we citizens want.
On a similar note, it is important to mention two key stakeholders who are very much involved in the process but on several occasions tend to be forgotten. I begin with polling officials whose diligence in their work will contribute to peace.
Please ensure that you minimise human errors, without compromising the integrity and accuracy of the process. Then we have the civil society. Your participation in the electoral processes, in itself, is commendable. In particular, where you were and will continue to be involved in creating voter awareness.
You are often closer to wananchi so please seek and help the nation maintain peace. Indeed, as our optimism continues to grow, I should also indicate that when voting is peaceful at all polling stations with no intimidation the process will signal a special duty for the new government.
Yes the new government shall need to respond to the good will of the people. In my view, apart from a huge number of challenges still facing wananchi, I see the new leadership role, among many other issues, should focus on at least four issues; tackling youth unemployment; alleviating poverty; combating corruption; and, as my piece suggests today, maintaining peace and stability.
We hope that the leaders and people, and here I mean whoever will come to power, shall have a responsibility to pick up the threads of any uncompleted process, which could further entrench our national core values in the country - one of which I am reflecting on today - peace!
And in all this, the success has had, for many years, its origin. The source is the culture of talking on issues about the future of our country. This is also linked to the efforts by the responsible bodies and institutions to ensure that citizens feel well informed but also confident in their ability to express differing views and debate core issues.
So let us be optimistic. As it was in the past elections when the world, on several occasions admitted that in Tanzania the voting and counting process at the polling stations is normally conducted in accordance with the laws of the United Republic of Tanzania, in a credible, peaceful and orderly manner, the same will happen in this 2020 elections. Congratulations to all my fellow citizens.
By going to the polling station and voting, you have chosen the best option. Committing to peace above all differences, best option after elections.
Dr Alfred Sebahene, PhD Social Ethics Specialist and Anti-Corruption Consultant St John’s University of Tanzania Dodoma, Tanzania Email Addresses: arsebahene2@ yahoo.co.uk, email@example.com Mobile: 0767 233 997