EISA Observer Mission to the 2010 Zanzibar Elections: Interim statement
EISA EOM Zanzibar 2010

Zanzibar 2 November 2010

1 Introduction

The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) deployed a Continental Election Observer Mission to the Zanzibar General Elections of 31 October 2010. The EISA Mission has made its assessment of the electoral process in Zanzibar and its preliminary findings and recommendations are presented in this interim statement. EISA will produce a more comprehensive and final report on the entire election process in due course. The final report will provide an in depth analysis, detailed observations as well as recommendations.

This is the third observation mission EISA has conducted in Zanzibar. The Mission was in Zanzibar at the invitation of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) and was led by Yusuf Aboobaker, Chairperson of the Electoral Supervisory Commission of Mauritius and Chairman of the Electoral Boundaries Commission of Mauritius. The Deputy Mission Leader was Felix Odhiambo (Country Director, EISA Kenya). The Mission was composed of 10 members from election management bodies (EMBs) and civil society organisations (CSOs) drawn from nine African countries namely Chad, Kenya, Liberia, DRC, Mauritius, Madagascar, Senegal, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The specific objectives of the Mission

  • Assess whether conditions existed for the conduct of elections that allow the people of Zanzibar to freely express their will;
  • Assess and determine whether the elections were conducted in accordance with the constitutional and legal framework for elections in Zanzibar;
  • Determine whether the final results of the electoral process as a whole reflect the wishes of the people of Zanzibar; and
  • Assess whether the elections met the benchmarks set out in the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation in the SADC Region (PEMMO) developed under the auspices of EISA and the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC countries.

2 Method of work

In order to accommodate the need for a holistic approach to election assessment, EISA undertook various activities covering the pre-election and polling phases and the immediate aftermath of the election. EISA will continue to follow post-election developments closely. The assessment methodology encompassed the activities outlined below.

2.1 In Country Briefings

On the 25-26 October 2010 members of the mission attended briefing sessions at the Serena Inn Hotel in Zanzibar where they were introduced to the context in which the election was being held. The methodology and tools of election assessment to be used by EISA were reviewed. During the briefing sessions, the mission received presentations from various key electoral stakeholders including CSOs, political parties and the media. On 28 October 2010, the mission attended a briefing for Observer teams hosted by the Chairperson, Commissioners and Director of ZEC.

2.2 Deployment

The EISA mission was deployed to various parts of Zanzibar to observe the electoral process. In its deployment, the mission covered Stone Town, the northern and southern parts of Unguja Island, including Tumbatu. The mission also dispatched a team of observers to Pemba Island.

2.3 Stakeholder Meetings and Political Party Rallies

These meetings provided useful insight into the different key stakeholders' assessment of the process. These meetings also assisted the mission to gauge the general mood in the country as the polls drew nearer. The mission also attended political-party rallies of different parties in Unguja and Pemba Island.

2.4 Observation of Voting and Counting

On 31 October, members of the Mission observed the voting and counting of votes at the polling stations. In total, the mission covered 61 polling stations in various districts, and observed the count at 8 separate stations.

2.5 Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation in the SADC Region (PEMMO)

The EISA Observer Mission's assessment of the 2010 general elections in Zanzibar was based on the Principles for Election Management, Monitoring and Observation (PEMMO). The principles are benchmarks against which an election can be measured from an objective basis to assess its credibility, transparency and legitimacy. PEMMO was developed by EISA in partnership with the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC countries, which comprises all the election management bodies in the SADC region. These principles are the result of extensive research and region-wide consultation with electoral stakeholders including CSOs and were designed to provide guiding principles for the administration of elections in the region. Using the electoral cycle approach, PEMMO covers the whole electoral process, including the period before, during and after the poll. Furthermore, PEMMO presents a useful tool for both post-election reviews and electoral reforms. For observers, PEMMO also outlines guidelines on the expected behaviour of observers for the enhanced credibility of election observation.

EISA has used PEMMO to assess elections since 2004, including the 2005 elections in Zanzibar.

3 Preliminary Findings of the Mission

After analysing the legal framework of elections in Zanzibar and the observations made by its different teams deployed on the ground, and basing itself on norms and guidelines contained in the PEMMO, the EISA Mission has identified certain issues in the electoral process that need to be highlighted.

3.1 Political Tolerance

The Mission noted that there has been a significant improvement in levels of political tolerance since the last elections held in Zanzibar in 2005. The agreement between President Amane Abeid Karume, leader of Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) in Zanzibar and Seif Sharif Hamad, leader of Civic United Front (CUF) contributed significantly to this observable change in political tolerance. The mission noted that beyond the agreement reached, the people of Zanzibar demonstrated a commitment to peaceful, orderly political activities and elections. This was reflected in the manner in which the political campaign and polling process took place which was without major incidences of political violence and intimidation.

3.2 Political Violence and Intimidation

Previous elections in Zanzibar have taken place against a background of incidences of politically motivated violence and intimidation. The mission noted with satisfaction that the present elections have not been marred by major acts of violence and political intimidation.

3.3 Broadening Space for Political Competition

The multiparty electoral environment in Zanzibar is currently dominated by the two major political parties (CCM and CUF) which crowds out smaller political parties. These parties have claimed that they did not have a voice in the political agreement between CCM and CUF in 2009. The citizens of Zanzibar were given the opportunity to express their opinion on this agreement in the 2010 referendum, ensuring that the principles of multi-partyism have been upheld.

3.4 Citizen Participation in Elections

The mission noted with satisfaction a strong participation of citizens in the elections in Zanzibar. The absence of violence and intimidation has contributed to the electorate being able to more freely exercise their right to vote. This was evidenced by a strong voter turnout in all constituencies and polling centres at which EISA observers were in attendance.

3.5 Counting and Results Management

The counting of ballot papers was conducted in an open manner in the presence of party poll-watchers and international observers who witnessed the counting process and verified the results at the polling stations where the votes were cast. The ballots for the Zanzibar and Union elections were counted separately and simultaneously and results were posted immediately after counting outside of the polling station. The ZEC and National Electoral Commission (NEC) staff appeared trained and demonstrated efficiency in the discharge of their duties. However, the conditions in the counting process could have been improved by providing more adequate lighting where required.

Polling stations closed at 16h00 on 31 October 2010, and counting began immediately, and in most of the polling stations where EISA observed the count the results were posted outside by 20h00. Expectations were raised for an early announcement of the results. At 13h00 on 1 November 2010, 29 out of 50 constituencies had been announced. According to the Electoral Act, no. 11 of 1984, Section 42(6) provides that: ?the Presidential election results shall be declared within three days after election day, except when there are election problems in some polling stations, three days after such problems have been resolved.? EISA believes that the speedy treatment and announcement of results contributes significantly to the credibility and reduction of tension and the acceptance of results. In the event the final results for the Presidential elections were publicly announced on the evening of 1 November 2010, at approximately 21h30 within the prescribed legal framework.

4 Areas for Improvement and Recommendations

EISA applauds various innovations by ZEC including the establishment of a National Results Centre and other measures already mentioned, which have contributed to improved election management. EISA also notes with satisfaction the gender mix of the ZEC electoral staff.

4.1 Independence of ZEC

The mission noted that the measures taken to make ZEC an impartial electoral body credible to the electorate should be further consolidated.

4.2 Improving Vote Counting and Management of Election Results

EISA recommends that mechanisms be considered whereby the electorate is regularly updated by ZEC on the progress in the tabulation of votes as this would significantly reduce tension and uncertainty in the post-election period.

4.3 Staff training

EISA recommends that in training its election staff, ZEC should strive to improve the level of standardisation in its staff practices and procedures, as this would reduce discrepancies in the application of electoral procedures.

4.4 Identifying ZEC officials

EISA recommends that in order to reduce confusion, ZEC should take particular care to distinguish its own staff from other stakeholders present in the polling stations.

4.5 Civic and voter education

EISA recommends that ZEC coordinates broad-based, continuous civic and voter education, not exclusively around election periods, in order to ensure the gains made during the 2010 elections are sustained.

5 Conclusion

Since its arrival in Zanzibar, the EISA mission has noted a general improvement in the conditions for the 2010 Presidential, House of Representatives and Local government elections. While the elections were not without problems, those problems did not materially impact on Zanzibar?s citizens? opportunity to express their political will through the vote. The peaceful climate of the 2010 elections afforded greater space for political competition than has been the case in previous elections. ZEC also exhibited improved performance in the overall management of the elections. The result of the Presidential elections has already been announced. EISA eagerly awaits the announcement of the remaining results which it wishes will bring the 2010 elections to a peaceful conclusion.

On behalf of the entire EISA Election Observer Mission, I would like to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude to the people of Zanzibar for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to the Mission.

Yusuf Aboobaker
EISA EOM Mission Leader