Tanzanian general election, 2015

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Tanzanian general election, 2015

← 2010 25 October 2015 (2015-10-25)[1] 2020 →
Opinion polls
Registered 23,254,485

  John Magufuli 2015.png Edward Lowasa (cropped).jpg
Nominee John Magufuli Edward Lowassa
Running mate Samia Suluhu Juma Haji
Popular vote 8,882,935 6,072,848
Percentage 58.46% 39.97

President before election

Jakaya Kikwete

Elected President

John Magufuli

The Tanzanian general election of 2015 was the 5th quinquennial election to be held since the restoration of the multi-party system in 1992. Voters elected the president, members of Parliament, and local government councillors.[2] By convention, the election was held on the last Sunday of October and was supervised by the National Electoral Commission (NEC). Political campaigns commenced on 22 August and ceased a day before the polling day.[1]

The incumbent president, Jakaya Kikwete, was ineligible to be elected to a third term because of term limits.[3] Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the country's dominant ruling party, selected Works Minister John Magufuli as its presidential nominee instead of the front-runner, former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa. After failing to secure the CCM's nomination, Lowassa defected to the opposition Chadema party despite it once labelling him as "one of the most corrupt figures in Tanzanian society".[4] This year's election was seen as the most competitive and unpredictable in the nation's history.[5]

The government had warned politicians to refrain from engaging in witchcraft, and a deputy minister told parliament that reports linking politicians with the killings of people with albinism could be true as it increases during the election period.[6] A ban on witch doctors was imposed in January 2015,[7] as some of them condone the killings due to superstitious beliefs that the victims' bodies "possess powers that bring luck and prosperity".[8]

On 29 October, CCM's Magufuli was declared the winner ahead of Chadema's Lowassa, who has yet to concede amid a dispute.[9]


Kikwete has presided over an average economic growth of 7% over the past decade.[10] Tanzania received an foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow of $2.14 billion in 2014 – the highest in the East African Community (EAC) region.[11]

Tanzania is a unitary, democratic, secular and de jure socialist state. Unlike most of its neighbours, Tanzania–mainland has enjoyed relative political stability since attaining independence in 1961. This is part of the legacy of its first president, Julius Nyerere, who led the one-party state for 24 years until his resignation in 1985.[12] Since then, a two-term presidential limit has been in place. As per the directive of the Bretton Woods Institutions, political and economic reforms were implemented in the 1990s.

All eligible voters were registered using the Biometric Voters' Register (BVR) kits.[13] In June 2015, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) estimated that there were 24,252,927 eligible voters based on the adjusted national population census.[14] By 2 August, NEC succeeded in registering 24,001,134 voters,[15] although the final number was 23,254,485.[16] The Tanzanian diaspora were not allowed to vote in this election.[17]

At the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D. C., President Kikwete said that he is looking forward to his retirement and described the presidency as being both "stressful and thankless."[3] When asked as to why some African leaders cling to power, Kikwete replied that every country is different and suggested the interviewer "invite these leaders and talk to them".[18] In May 2015, Kikwete denied reports that his government planned to extend his term beyond his constitutional mandate and assured the nation that he was "leaving in October".[19]

A new constitution was expected to have been adopted before the general election via a referendum that had been postponed. The final draft of the proposed constitution includes the establishment of an independent electoral commission and will allow dissatisfied candidates to challenge the results in the High Court within seven days of the pronouncement.[20] Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman has said the judiciary was prepared to handle all cases pertaining to the results of the forthcoming election.[21]

On 29 July 2015, 21 political parties signed the 2015 General Elections Code of Conduct.[22] About 4,000 adherents of the Watch Tower Church in Kalambo District have been prohibited from voting as it is against their beliefs.[23] The Tanzanian Army refuted allegations made by CHADEMA that it had confiscated the BVR cards of its soldiers and warned political parties "to stop provoking it."[24]

Presidential election[edit]

Voters selected the fifth President and his running mate as the Vice President of Tanzania.

Article 39(1) of the 1977 Constitution stipulates the following qualifications for a person to be elected as President:[25]

The proposed constitution adds the following criteria: both parents of the candidate ought to be citizens by birth; the candidate be of sound mind and either holds a Bachelor's degree or has skill and experience in leadership at the national level; and may also be a private candidate. The winning candidate will have to obtain more than 50% of all the votes cast; otherwise a runoff will be held within 60 days.[20]



The ruling CCM (and its predecessor parties) has dominated the political scene since the nation attained independence in 1961. Following the restoration of multi-party politics in 1992, it has retained its popularity and the voters' confidence, winning all of the past four general elections (held in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010).[26] Jakaya Kikwete, its presidential candidate in 2005, won by a landslide, receiving more than 80 percent of the popular vote.[27] In the last election in 2010, Kikwete won his second and final term, albeit by a reduced margin.[28]

More than forty members of the party contested in the primaries. On 10 July, the party's Central Committee scrutinised the then 38 presidential aspirants and selected five candidates for the consideration of its National Executive Committee. The top five were Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, Works Minister John Magufuli, Justice Minister Asha-Rose Migiro, Deputy Minister January Makamba and Ambassador Amina Salum Ali.[29] On 11 July, the National Executive Committee selected the three finalists: John Magufuli, Amina Salum Ali and Asha-Rose Migiro.[30]

On 12 July, Works Minister John Magufuli was declared as the party's candidate;[31] he was considered most likely to win the election.[32][33][34][35][36] The Economist Intelligence Unit in its political forecast stated that "CCM's candidate is almost certain to become the country's next president."[37]


Four opposition parties with differing ideologies agreed to form an alliance known as UKAWA and intended to nominate a single candidate. The alliance consists of the conservative/centrist Chadema party, the liberal Civic United Front (CUF), the social democratic NCCR–Mageuzi and the National League for Democracy (NLD).[38]

Former Prime Minister and CCM front-runner Edward Lowassa defected to Chadema and was selected as the alliance's nominee instead of Wilbroad Slaa, who was Chadema's 2010 candidate. CUF National Chairman Ibrahim Lipumba resigned, stating that the coalition had "reneged on its agreement" on receiving those defecting from CCM.[39]

Ibrahim Lipumba resigned as CUF Chairman following Lowassa's selection as UKAWA's nominee.
Candidate Running mate Party
Anna Elisha Mghwira[40] Hamad Mussa Yussuf Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT)
Edward Lowassa[40] Juma Duni Haji Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA)
Fahmi Nassoro Dovutwa[40] Hamadi Mohammed Ibrahimu United People's Democratic Party (UPDP)
Hashim Rungwe Spunda[40] Issa Abas Hussein Chama cha Ukombozi wa Umma (CHAUMMA)
Janken Malik Kasambala[40] Simai Abdulrahman Abdulla National Reconstruction Alliance (NRA)
Lutalosa Yembe[40] Said Miraj Abdallah Alliance for Democratic Change (ADC)
Machmillan Elifatio Lyimo[40]
Tanzania Labour Party (TLP)

Other elections[edit]

Parliamentary election[edit]

Constituency representation
in the outgoing Parliament
Political Party Seats

In the last election, the CCM attained 186 of the 239 constituencies, thus achieving an outright majority in the National Assembly.[28] Tanzania uses first-past-the-post voting method for its legislative elections. On 9 July 2015, President Kikwete addressed Parliament for the last time before it being dissolved.[41]

Voting will take place in all the 265 parliamentary constituencies in order to elect Members of Parliament (MPs) to seats in the National Assembly.[2] More than 2,700 CCM members contested in the party's primaries in order to seek the party's nomination.[42]


The semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar elects its own President and members to its subnational legislature, the Zanzibar House of Representatives. The Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) has declared 25 October as the election date.[43] The number of constituencies has been increased from 50 to 54.[44]

Presidential election
Candidate Party
Ali Mohammed Shein[45] Chama Cha Mapinduzi
Seif Sharif Hamad[46] Civic United Front
Hamad Rashid Mohamed[47] Alliance for Democratic Change
Ambar Khamis Haji[45] NCCR–Mageuzi
Juma Ali Khatib[48] TADEA
Soud Said Soud[45] Alliance for Tanzania Farmers Party

Opinion polls[edit]

Poll source Date Sample size Undecided Lowassa
Twaweza[49] September 2014 1,445 33% 13.0% 12.0% 11.0% 6.0% 5.0% 3.0% 3.0% 1.0%
Positive Thinkers[50] March 2015 3,298 22.8% 3.2% 19.5% 8.9% 5.9% 6.8% 6.7% 1.2% 1.6%
Samunge SSRC[51] 2013–2015 7,000 20.7% 2.4% 11.7% 4.2% 7.0% 7.6% 3.4% 3.4% 4.8%
REDET[52] 23–26 June 2015 1,250 27.0% 7.2% 8.2% 6.6% 3.1% 0.8%
23.1% 13.6% 7.2%
Poll source Date Sample size Undecided Magufuli
Others Notes
Twaweza[53] 19 August–7 September 2015 1,848 7.0% 65.0% 25.0% N/A 3.0% Margin of error of +/-2.5%
Ipsos[54] 5–22 September 2015 1,836 7.3% 61.6% 30.8% 0.3% Margin of error of +/-2.3%
TADIP[55] 1–21 September 2015 2,040 3.0% 40.0% 54.5% 2.0% Poll conducted in only 10 regions



Candidate Party Votes %
John Magufuli Chama Cha Mapinduzi 8,882,935 58.46
Edward Lowassa Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo 6,072,848 39.97
Anna Elisha Mghwira Alliance for Change and Transparency 98,763 0.65
Lutalosa Yembe Alliance for Democratic Change 66,049 0.43
Hashim Rungwe Spunda Chama cha Ukombozi wa Umma 49,256 0.32
Machmillan Elifatio Lyimo Tanzania Labour Party 8,198 0.05
Janken Malik Kasambala National Reconstruction Alliance 8,028 0.05
Fahmi Nassoro Dovutwa United People's Democratic Party 7,785 0.05
Invalid/blank votes 402,248
Total 15,596,110 100
Registered voters/turnout 23,161,440 67.34
Source: NEC

National Assembly[edit]

Party Votes % Seats
Directly Elected Women Appointed Total +/–
Chama Cha Mapinduzi 8,021,427 55.04 188 64 252
Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo 4,627,923 31.75 34 36 70
Civic United Front 1,257,765 8.63 32 10 42
Alliance for Change and Transparency 323,112 2.22 1 0 1
NCCR–Mageuzi 218,209 1.50 1 0 1
Chama cha Ukombozi wa Umma 23,058 0.16 0 0 0 0 0
Democratic Party 14,471 0.10 0 0 0 0 0
United Democratic Party 13,757 0.09 0 0 0 0 –1
Tanzania Labour Party 13,098 0.09 0 0 0 0 –1
ADA–TADEA 12,979 0.09 0 0 0 0 0
Alliance for Democratic Change 12,420 0.09 0 0 0 0 0
Chama cha Haki na Ustawi 8,217 0.06 0 0 0 0 0
Alliance for Tanzania Farmers Party 7,498 0.05 0 0 0 0 0
United People's Democratic Party 3,772 0.03 0 0 0 0 0
Jahazi Asilia 3,344 0.02 0 0 0 0 0
Progressive Party of Tanzania – Maendeleo 3,037 0.02 0 0 0 0 0
Chama Cha Kijamii 2,310 0.02 0 0 0 0 0
National League for Democracy 2,082 0.01 0 0 0 0 0
Union for Multiparty Democracy 1,975 0.01 0 0 0 0 0
Sauti ya Umma 1,810 0.01 0 0 0 0 0
National Reconstruction Alliance 1,467 0.01 0 0 0 0 0
Demokrasia Makini 1,226 0.01 0 0 0 0 0
Invalid/blank votes
Total 14,574,957 100 256 110 10 367 +17
Registered voters/turnout
Source: NEC, IPU


Second-placed candidate Edward Lowassa called for a recount, citing irregularities. In response to the National Electoral Commission's (NEC) plan to reveal the winner of the presidential race on 29 October, Lowassa called for the cancellation of the announcement. "We demand that NEC should do a verification of the results and recount the votes." However, the NEC and CCM dismissed allegations of rigging, with NEC Chairman Damian Labuva, stating "Claims of vote rigging highly misleading it is not true at all."[56]

Allegations of misconduct[edit]

In Zanzibar, the local election commission stated that there had been "gross violations," and that the election had been annulled. A member of Civic United Front (CUF) said that annulling the result was a ploy to re-run the election it has won. CCM also alleged there were violations in at least four parliamentary constituencies it had lost and that it would go to court to contest the result, but added that the "elections were free and fair" and that voting reflected the will of the people.[56] In ensuing protests in Zanzibar, several people were arrested.[57] The annulled Zanzibar poll did not affect this overall outcome.[9]


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External links[edit]