Wednesday, October 13, 2010




12th October 2010
Daily News
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

No one doubts the power of opinion polls when it comes to elections. That is why whenever there are opinion polls, there are always push polls; polls created to push voters to a certain direction, though those are regarded unethical — but hey, election time is emergency time, anything goes!

Conducting a credible public opinion poll, especially in an infrastructure challenged country like ours, is not something that can be done by everyone. However, thanks to the internet, now every John and Juma can create and conduct any type of public opinion poll — it just takes a click of a mouse, (of course you have to know what you are doing). You can tell all your friends to start voting.

But still there is a problem, because no matter how simplified it has become, the challenge remains that you have to be a credible and authoritative source for the opinion poll result to mean anything to anyone. That is why after all these opinion polls; the famous
Daily News Online poll, the Synovate survey (ok, am not sure of the existence of this one) and the other less known ones, everyone was asking where is the Redet survey — you know how important you are when the party does not start until you walk in.

So last week Redet announced; Jakaya Kikwete would have scooped 71.2 per cent of the votes if the general elections were to be held in September while, the opponent who is close to him is Dr Slaa with 12.3 per cent. And the discussions began! Everyone knows the power of any survey, what I did not know is that surveys may have the lunacy effect to some people.

It is the only way I can explain someone who ends up putting their imaginations on their papers; that the person who put the Daily News Online Survey might be one of the Chadema members/followers. Now I hear people saying that Redet is CCM. It is unbelievable that the people who are fast to jump into conclusion about the outcome of the coming election based on the results of a survey that shows their side wining are the same people who are quick to discredit other surveys, which show their side is losing.

Now the campaign teams will forget about selling their policies to the voters and start being worked out with these polls show; this poll is biased vs this is the real deal. I am not suggesting that the surveys should be ignored, not at all, because doing that will be ignoring the symptoms of any disease; a headache may be one of the first symptom of Aids, or it may mean you are exhausted, just lay dawn and it will go away.

But it is always wise to check with a doctor. For the campaign teams; if the poll shows that your candidate is losing, you still have time to change the minds of the undecided and you never know, you may even get a big number of your opponent voters. If your candidate is winning, don’t put up your legs yet, someone might change the minds of your voters.

For us, the politics lovers, our online votes do not mean anything if we do not hold on to our voters’ IDs, go to the real polling stations, cast our votes, and wait for results. No matter what all the opinion polls show, what real matters is the October 31 polls results.