“Dictators are not in the business of allowing elections that could remove them from their thrones.” ― Gene Sharp
While we live in a democracy, that may change soon. We were not too concerned about violence from the upcoming elections on the 25th of this month, but there was a huge (thousands in attendance) opposition rally just two blocks from our house two days ago. It is getting close to us in more ways than one. Even our staff is divided as the ruling party is giving away clothes, mosquito nets, and money (about $20 per vote) to help buy the election. In 2005, the opposition only held 36 of the 300 seats in parliament and lost thirty of those. However, in the 2010 (every five years) national elections, the opposition party gained over 100 seats which gave them a third of the parliament. The ruling party’s corruption has been so widespread and transparent (some involved in elephant poaching) that the ministers not only fear the losing of their jobs, but they fear arrest and the seizing of their fortunes and estates. In Tanzania, almost every single person who can vote will vote no matter how long the lines. The real threat is that the opposition party will win, but the ruling party will refuse to relinquish control and will use the military to crush any attempts to seat the winners. This has happened in other African countries, just last year in neighboring Rwanda, so it is a very real threat. We do not expect the tribe on tribe violence that marked the elections in Kenya because they only have five tribes and only two were involved deeply in the election. We have 120 tribes, so tribe on tribe violence is not expected at all. Mostly it is the young people who are supporting the opposition with the older women and men supporting the ruling party (CCM). We are stocking up on canned goods, bottled water, making sure the car has a full fuel tank and that we have adequate cash on hand to make a dash for the border if necessary. I personally do not believe that God will not protect us here, but that doesn’t mean that others will not be killed or that the government will not suffer upheavals and changes. We did not come here only if everything was going to be good and stable. We know missionaries in war-torn countries who work in daily fear, so we have been blessed so far. We do ask for lots of prayers, especially for the days after the election. Our American friend is scheduled to return to the U.S. on October 28th, just three days after the election from two big cities where we fear the worst violence may occur. John has a meeting in Dar Es Salaam scheduled for November the 1st, but everyone involved knows there’s a big “if” involved in that. Other countries are sending observers to oversee the election, but we don’t know what they would be able to do as there were people watching the elections in Kenya and thousands lost their lives. At least no matter how crazy American politics may be, whoever gets elected gets to serve. You guys need to be grateful and cut each other a little more slack. Christ did not preach hate or anger but love and forgiveness. Might be a good idea for all of us to remember that in the coming weeks.