Monday, 9 November 2020

Vote rigging and murder in Ngorongoro

On Election Day, in Ngorongoro ward of Ngorongoro district, police and Ngorongoro Conservation Area rangers opened fire shooting innocent, unarmed voters who were standing up for democracy, trying to stop election fraud. 23-year old Salula Ngorisiolo was killed. Then the injured victims were arrested, and so was the CHADEMA ward councillor candidate, and the former CCM councillor (who was on the side of justice), and they were locked up illegally for a week and are now facing charges, while the murderers and vote riggers walk free.


In this blog post:

Stolen elections in Tanzania

Murder and illegal arrests in Ngorongoro


This blog is about “investors” that threaten land rights in Loliondo and the local police state at their service, a police state that was terrifying long before the whole of Tanzania turned into something similar, and it’s about the current genocidal Multiple Land Use Model review proposal. Though this particular post is about a not entirely unrelated heinous crime. There are still some information gaps, but I can’t wait longer to publish this.


Stolen elections in Tanzania

The rigging of the Tanzanian election had been almost five years in the making. Soon after having been sworn in, Magufuli banned all political activities by the opposition outside the election campaign, except for internal meetings - but the police has disrupted those too claiming unlawful assembly - while CCM could continue any activities freely. In early 2016, Magufuli announced that by the 2020 elections, all political opposition would be dead, and those who had any doubt, now know that he meant it. Live parliamentary debates were barred, and media were censored. Over a dozen opposition MPs have been imprisoned for the offence of “sedition”. Some lucky opposition members have been kidnapped, beaten, and dropped in some place far from their home, while some unlucky ones have disappeared or been found dead.


A law (the Political Parties Amendment Act) was on 22nd February 2019 passed to restrict the ability of political parties to collaborate or make coalitions, and on 18th September 2020 a new law was passed (Political Parties Elections Broadcasts Code) restricting broadcasting or discussion of opinion polls, and election results.


On 27th July 2020, former Singida East MP Tundu Lissu, who was stripped of his parliamentary seat for non-attendance, returned home after three years of surgery and recovery in Kenya and Belgium. On 7th September 2017 – following repeated illegal arrests and malicious prosecution – Lissu was hit by 16 bullets fired by unknown people while in his car inside the heavily guarded parliamentary housing compound. If there ever were any kind of investigation into this assassination attempt, and there probably wasn’t, it never reached anywhere. Lissu was soon after his return elected as CHADEMA’s presidential candidate and went on a whirlwind tour of Tanzania with multitudinous election rallies electrifying the attendants with his courage, intelligence, and good nature – in stark contrast to Magufuli - after five years of growing fear everywhere.  

Lissu is a friend of Ngorongoro.

Unfortunately, District Executive Directors (DEDs), who are appointed directly by the president, are the returning officers of the National Electoral Commission, and have without reason disqualified CHADEMA and ACT candidates, so that the CCM candidates could “contest” unopposed for 28 parliamentary seats, while others lost much campaign time on appealing. The police didn’t hide that they were working for CCM and kept harassing, arresting and beating campaigning opposition politicians, tear gassing opposition supporters, and blocking the movement of opposition campaigns. Lissu was so obviously popular that the National Electoral Commission arbitrarily banned him from campaigning for 7 days.


On 27th October, many people in Ngorongoro and all over Tanzania started having problems accessing social media, and sending text messages mentioning “Tundu Lissu”. In Ololosokwan there were those who could only use the Kenyan Safaricom. Some Tanzanians learned to use VPN, while others had problems with throttled social media for over a week. Foreign journalists weren’t allowed in Tanzania, unless accompanied by authorities, and Tanzanian media were already very deep into self-censorship. Independent electoral observers had not been invited.


On Pemba, in Zanzibar – where CCM are said to have stolen every election since the introduction of the multi-party system - on 27th October at least 13 voters were killed by security organs, and there were reports of widespread beatings and rape. Horrible videos of abuse keep surfacing as internet services return. The violence has continued on Zanzibar, and basically all ACT Wazalendo top politicians have been arrested and some of them tortured. The ACT campaign manager in Zanzibar, Husna Mohammed Abdalla, was missing without a trace for almost a week and then released on bail with severe torture injuries. ACT’s deputy secretary general Nassor Mazrui has been detained without charges and without access to a lawyer for over twelve days now. He was severely beaten by security forces and not seen since. The same has happened to a long list of opposition politicians and supporters.


Mauwa Mohammed Mussa, ACT MP candidate for Shaurimoyo, was tortured by security forces using wire, hammer and clubs.

Ismail Jussa, ACT Wazalendo, was tortured by the police while arrested and then for several days prevented from going to Nairobi for surgery. 

Nassor Mazrui's daughter

There has since the introduction of multi-party elections in Tanzania always been election fraud, if contesting you’ve always needed people that can guard your votes from being stolen, but on Election Day 28th October 2020, it was soon clear that CCM were this time not even trying to keep up any pretence of credible elections. Opposition politicians kept being arrested, opposition polling agents blocked from polling stations, and there were several filmed reports of voters intercepting police and others with boxes, backpacks or baskets filled with pre-marked ballot papers.  There were killings in other areas on the mainland as well, not only in Ngorongoro. The reporting of the violent incidences were limited by the throttling of the internet


Unsurprisingly, the “election results” showed a landslide victory for Magufuli and CCM candidates basically everywhere, and not least in opposition strongholds. Any fake credibility had already been done away with.


From the national level to the most local level, opposition candidates and stalwarts have been subjected to arbitrary detention, torture and disappearance. Those in detention has been accused of economic crimes, terrorism, armed robbery among many trumped up charges. Two presidential candidates - Tundu Lissu and Maalim Seif (Zanzibar) - have been arrested as part of the systematic hunting of the opposition. Godbless Lema, former MP for Arusha Urban has fled to Kenya and is seeking asylum, and Tunda Lissu has taken refuge at the residence of the German ambassador.


The harshest international condemnation and sanctions are needed. Now.


Murder and illegal arrests in Ngorongoro

On Election Day, at the Oloirobi polling station in Ngorongoro ward, opposition polling agents weren’t allowed in, and around 10am a vehicle belonging to a CCM member named Sammi arrived with this Sammi, a CCM polling agent named Oltunyo Oloitai and boxes full of pre-marked ballots. Opposition polling agents and voters refused to let this happen, and Sammi and Oltunyo were taken away by the police. No action was however taken against them and they were soon seen out and about again. Such boxes, bags and baskets were intercepted all over Tanzania, and reportedly they occurred in other areas of Ngorongoro as well, but it seems like, in the district, only in Oloirobi were the polling agents and voters brave enough to try to stop it. Though in Endulen, the night before the election, the opposition managed to stop CCM’s plan for three fake polling stations.


Around noon there was a second attempt at rigging. Then it was “discovered” that the polling agents didn’t have identification from the returning officer, DED Siumbu. Initially, no party had their agents identified. Only in the middle of the confrontation, the assistant returning officer availed identification letters to CCM polling agents alone.


DED Raphael Siumbu, to the right. Presenting MP Olenasha with his certificate of appointment.

When the opposition polling agents and the voters resisted the removal of the polling agents, the police and the NCAA rangers task force fired teargas and live bullets at the innocent, unarmed civilians. This heinous crime claimed one person's life and four other people were wounded.

Salula Ngorisiolo was killed. He was 23-years-old. Leepalai Kashiro, who was shot in the stomach, was taken to hospital, while the injured Meshuko Lesitik, Neepai Olorru, and Kone Leyan were taken into police custody.


After the murder, the voting was suspended, and then followed hunting and arrests of opposition candidates and cadres. CHADEMA councillor candidate for Ngorongoro ward Tubulu Nebasi, who hadn’t even been at the polling station in Oloirobi, former CCM councillor Daniel Orkery, and the three injured men not in hospital, were detained by the police. Tubulu’s campaign had raised enthusiasm and a CHADEMA victory in Ngorongoro ward seemed quite probable indeed. The former CCM councillor was supporting Tubulu.


It was hard to get exact information, most people seemed very passive. A friend of mine said that people in Ngorongoro have been oppressed for too long and become like cold ashes. Though apparently relatives weren’t allowed to see those illegally arrested, nobody knew what they were accused of, or even if they were being held at Ngorongoro police station, or had been taken to Loliondo. According to the law they should have been either taken to court or granted bail after 24 hours. Though obviously, they should never have been arrested, since they were the victims of the terrible crime committed by the police, the rangers, DED Siumbu, the candidates benefitting from the fraud, and ultimately Magufuli himself (I will no longer call him president).


Reportedly, the aim of the illegal arrest was to force Tubulu Nebasi to recognise the election result.


Advocate Joseph Oleshangay prepared an application to the court, and on 3rd November a lawyer from Legal and Human Rights Centre went to Loliondo.


On 4th November, the illegally arrested defenders of democracy were taken to court in Loliondo and released on bail. They must present themselves in court again on 25th November. They are accused of:

-Attacking the polling station.

-Beating the election administrators at the said polling station.

-Beating up the rangers at the polling station.


It’s very hard to get updates, but reportedly Leepalai Kashiro is still in hospital.


Salula Ngorisiolo will never be brought back to life. The murderers, and those ordering them, must be taken to court, but so far no action at all has been taken against them. The elections can still be re-run without rigging and violence (a very unrealistic wish according to everyone) even if the five years of pre-rigging and violence can’t be erased.


Susanna Nordlund


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