The Tanzanian Election in the Eyes of the Chinese [TRANSLATION]

The following is my translation of a special feature in a Chinese-language publication in Tanzania on the Tanzanian general elections back in October. I did not write the article, so all credit is due to the newspaper editor. A link to the original article can be found here. Suggestions for improving the translation are always welcome.


On the 29th of October, at 4 PM in the afternoon, the results of the Tanzanian national election were announced on television. CCM candidate John Magufuli was elected as the next President of Tanzania, bringing down the curtain on the experience of the election over the past few months. During these months, it was a remarkable time for Chinese who live in Tanzania and are concerned about this country. Chinese Weekly specially invited several of them to share the 2015 Tanzanian elections in their own eyes.


Zhu Jin Feng, Tanzanian Citizen and the Head of the Tanzania Branch of the Association for the Promotion of the Peaceful Unification of China.

This year’s election was distinctly different from the last two that I have experienced. The opposition party was strong, and the electoral atmosphere was tense and enthusiastic. Lots of foreigners left Tanzania before and after the election. Lots of Indians, Koreans, Japanese and Chinese also left. If they did not leave, they took vacations. During this time, everyone was nervous about the situation during the election and social stability.

I stayed in Tanzania during the election because I obtained Tanzanian citizenship. I have a responsibility towards my rights. I certainly needed to participate in order to choose a good President for us, and to make one’s personal contribution to the development prospects of Tanzania!

Through participating in this election, a biggest experience is learning that this is an authentically democratic country. On the day of casting ballots, people lined up orderly under the sun, without anybody complaining, just joking and laughing as they advanced in line. Between fathers and sons, and husbands and wives, each insisted upon their own views without any mutual interference. The person you want to vote for is the person you vote for. While waiting in line, respect for the elderly and love for the young was very evident. Elders did not need to line up, young people automatically let them go first. They particularly showed consideration towards new immigrants. There wasn’t the least bit of xenophobia. Everyone peacefully co-existed. This made me feel again the simple sincerity and honesty of the Tanzanian people.

Now, we have chosen a new president. After the new president takes office, ordinary people hope there will be a big change, that the style in which government agencies work will change, that reforms will be vigorously implemented, that there will be economic development, that the lowest classes of citizens will have food to eat, clothes to wear and homes to live in.


Zhou Jiang Yue, A Chinese traveling In Tanzania

Over several months of preparation, until the voters have cast their votes, and until the results have been announced, and the elected person has resoundingly entered the stage, the whole of Tanzania has been tranquil. This tranquility has more or less surprised us Chinese. This is a good thing. I believe Tanzanian officials and citizens have, by working together, achieved the twin goals of a successful and peaceful election. Besides the quality (suzhi) of the people, the most important reason is the entire electoral process embodied fairness.

Fairness is completely fundamental to “competition.” For any country’s constitution and the law under its command, the most important goal is to embody, to the greatest limit, the will and aspirations of the people, and to be fair. From the social form reflected by Tanzanian society revolving around the election, and from the attitude displayed by the authorities, I believe the parties and people are very free, and very equal. Concerning the election, each candidate had a remarkable ability, untrammeled passion which did not stick to a single pattern, to independently express and reveal their views, and beliefs to the public, for social inspection.

Gatherings and parades of all sizes, although they affected traffic sometimes, they were not disturbed or blocked. The pledges of the people were fully respected. On the streets were the posters of candidates, the flags of parties, left and right between you and I, around each other, sharing space, with no ‘you’ covering over ‘me’, ‘me’ covering ‘you.’ The media and public opinion bluntly exposed and criticized the corruption of government officials. Candidates for the ruling party also declared punishing corruption to be an important task. The criticism of people towards the government was not suppressed or denied, it enjoyed full freedom of speech. The qualifications for casting a ballot were strictly inspected. Voter forms, photographs and fingerprints were inspected. The casting of ballots underwent a thorough procedure. We observed and studied this election from an early ferment to the climax of the conclusion, experiencing “fairness,” although it’s impossible for it to have been absolute. But the present stability and unity of the situation is evidence as much.

A vigorous competition ending in a peace and tranquility. This is my complete sense of this election in Tanzania. This author applauds the wisdom and broad-mindedness the Tanzanian ruling authorities have bestowed for “fairness” and even more, admires the Tanzanian voters who cherish their rights, equality and the general good.


Agricultural Aid Expert, Hualin Jushi

I have been in Tanzania for more than six years, and have experienced two elections. I remember the last election was held in October of 2010. On the day of the general election for president, the situation was very nervous. I remember at the time the votes and counting were being concluded, we had just returned from Zanzibar. The people who came to pick us up at the airport said that it looked like the opposition party had won, but CCM would not want to hand over power. It was possible there would be chaos in Dar es Salaam. This scared us. When we left the airport, we discovered that lots of large election posters for Kikwete alongside the road had been torn down. It looked as if the political situation had changed. A period of time passed after the election before the results were announced. In the end, CCM won.

This year’s election made people pay even more attention. This was because it was the most competitive election since Tanzania’s multi-party system began in 1992. CCM and the opposition both had people who favored them. Once, when a tire on our truck went flat, I went to a tire shop to buy and change the tire. Talking with the repairman, it was unavoidable that the topic of the presidential election would come up. They asked me who I supported. I said I don’t know. I would support whoever got elected. One of the black brothers pointed at the two bunny ears on my Playboy T-shirt. He said I supported Lowassa because my shirt had the “V” symbol used by Lowassa for the election.


I also saw a little of election rallies. In each city and each village, there were often election meetings. Speakers would stand on stage and expound in loud voices. The crowd below would occasionally shout. The entire scene was noisy and in disarray. On television, I could often see the rallies of the two camps. One scene took place in the city, the opposition candidate Lowassa faced a densely packed crowd, many of them youth. When he gave an impassioned election speech, with each thing he said, the crowd shouted Lowassa’s name in unison. Another scene was a rally in a village. The CCM candidate Magufuli also faced a crowd of very black supporters. He gave an enthusiastic election speech. Each time he paused, the crowd below excitedly cheered. The slogans of the two candidates was almost the same. They both wanted to reform how the country is governed, they both were going to fight corruption, develop the economy, change the investment environment, improve traffic, increase the electricity and natural gas supply, raise the level of education, and reduce poverty. It was just the style of expression and points of emphasis were different. During the rallies, no matter whether or it was Magufuli’s supporters or Lowassa’s supporters, or Zanzibar’s CUF supporters, everyone was engrossed. This is especially true of young people, they were more energetic and jubilant, and expressed a high level of enthusiasm.

Although each party’s rallies approaching the election were bustling with noise and excitement, when the election day of October 25 arrived, there was again tranquility and order. In Dakawa, across from our demonstration center, there was a middle school that served as a polling station. I saw lines of people in front of the building. The local people were orderly in waiting to vote. There was no noise here. The people who voted were all very quiet. It was very similar to the scene of local people waiting in a bank to deposit money. On the second day after the election, I went to Morogoro to have a look. Cars drove in and out of the city, the streets were tranquil. People acted like normal times, bustling with activity, going to work like going to work, shopping like shopping, doing business like doing business. Shops and banks were all open. The farmer’s market was also open. Daladala drivers were picking up passengers like before. The scene was an ordinary bustling marketplace. I did not see any demonstrations or processions.

People often say that in African countries, “elections are always chaotic.” But the achievement of Tanzania’s election demonstrates that this statement is not universal. The entire process of this election was fundamentally peacefully conducted. The kind of turmoil people worried about before did not occur. Tanzanians rationally voted for their own new president. I wish Tanzanians a beautiful tomorrow. I also hope that after the election, we Chinese in Tanzania have an even better investment, work and life environment.


Chief Editor of Chinese Weekly Li Kun

October in Dar es Salaam is the last stage of Tanzania’s general election. The days pass with nervousness, anxiousness, excitement and tranquility. Can a presidential election in an African country follow democratic procedures? Can an African country which is often denounced for “administrative chaos” administer tens of millions of votes? If a large number of youth participate in an election, does that lead to social turmoil? Now that this month has come, I have some answers.

The driver in my office is a CCM supporter. In this election, he firmly cast his vote for Magufuli. But this this month, his mood was up and down, and in turmoil. Every morning when I arrived at the office, from looking at his facial expression, I could guess 70 to 80% whether CCM was sailing smoothly, or encountering challenges. “I heard that when Lowassa went to Mwanza to give a speech, lots of people supported him. CCM is afraid they can’t withstand them” (bitter face). “Although it is said the opposition’s is stronger in Mbeya, when Magufuli went there, there were also lots of supporters!” (happy). “My mother in the village called me, and exhorted me that if my support for CCM cannot change, how could I ever change?” (disapproving)

The participation of the Tanzanian populace in the elections was deep and energetic, leaving a deep impression on me. No matter whether it was the ruling party or the opposition party, their supporters were all very much engrossed in election activities. We reported on volunteers on the streets day and night protecting their party’s flags. They sincerely hoped that their own participation could help this country elect the right leader, and give Tanzania a positive change.

On the day of the election, I went outside on tenterhooks to observe the situation of polling booths. My mind was full of false images of “chaos and disorder”, and even a little bit of concern about personal safety. However, everything was clear and in and good order at the polling booths. The streets of the city were peaceful and quiet. It shocked me. Just as the above authors mentioned, this kind of discrepancy broke though prejudice and original imaginings, making us once again reflect and learn from our mistake.

Chinese Weekly’s series of election reports during the election season received help and support from ten Chinese friends. Some of them appear in our interview report, and some of them gave us messages or interviews. We would like to thank everyone! Following the election, we are looking forward to Tanzania’s new developments. The Chinese Weekly will continue to strive to provide Chinese even better news.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s