Tanzania: Government

Principal Government Officials

Chief of State: President Jakaya Kikwete
Head of Government: President Jakaya Kikwete

Tanzania's president and Parliament members are elected concurrently by direct popular vote for 5-year terms. The president appoints a prime minister who serves as the government's leader in the Parliament. The president selects his cabinet from among Parliament members. The constitution also empowers the president to nominate 10 non-elected members of Parliament, who also are eligible to become cabinet members. Elections for president and all parliamentary seats were last held in October 2010. The next presidential and parliamentary elections will be in 2015.

The unicameral Parliament has up to 357 members: the Attorney General; the Speaker; five members elected from and by the Zanzibar House of Representatives; 102 special women's seats apportioned among the political parties based on their election results; 239 constituent seats (including 50 from Zanzibar); and 10 members nominated by the president. Although Zanzibar accounts for only 3% of Tanzania's population, it is guaranteed over 15% of seats in the Union Parliament. The ruling party, CCM, holds almost 80% of the seats in the Parliament. The Tanzanian Union Parliament legislates on all union matters (foreign affairs, defense, police, etc.) and non-union matters for the mainland. Laws passed by the Parliament are valid for Zanzibar only in specifically designated union matters.

Under the Union Agreement, Zanzibar has extensive autonomy within Tanzania. Zanzibar has its own President, legislature and bureaucracy ("the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar" led by "the Revolutionary Council") that presides over all non-union matters. The constitutional changes endorsed in the July 31, 2010 referendum provide for a government of national unity which establishes the positions of the first and second vice presidents, the former to be selected from the lead opposition party and the latter from the ruling party. Ministers must be selected from among the members of Zanzibar's House of Representatives. The cabinet must reflect the proportion of seats held by each political party.

There are currently 81 members in the House of Representatives in Zanzibar: 50 elected by the people; 10 appointed by the president of Zanzibar, two of whom must be from the opposition; five ex officio members; an attorney general appointed by the president; and 20 special seats allocated to women. Zanzibar's House of Representatives can make laws for Zanzibar without the approval of the union government as long as it does not involve union-designated matters. The terms of office for Zanzibar's president and House of Representatives are 5 years. The semi-autonomous status of Zanzibar under the Union is frequently debated, both by mainlanders and by Zanzibaris.

Tanzania has a five-level judiciary combining the jurisdictions of tribal, Islamic, and British common law. Appeal is from the primary courts through the district courts, resident magistrate courts, to the high courts, and from the high courts to the Court of Appeals. District and resident court magistrates are appointed by the Chief Justice, except for judges of the High Court and Court of Appeals, who are appointed by the president. The Zanzibari court system parallels the legal system of the union. All cases tried in Zanzibari courts, except for those involving constitutional issues and Islamic law, can be appealed to the Court of Appeals of the union. A commercial court was established on the mainland in September 1999 as a division of the High Court.

For administrative purposes, Tanzania is divided into 30 regions--25 on the mainland, three on Unguja (Zanzibar), and two on Pemba (Zanzibar's second isle). District councils (also referred to as local government authorities) act at the most local level. There are 114 councils operating in 99 districts; 22 urban, 92 rural. The 22 urban units are classified further as city (Dar es Salaam and Mwanza), municipal (Arusha, Dodoma, Iringa, Kilimanjaro, Mbeya, Morogoro, Shinyanga, Tabora, and Tanga), and town councils (the remaining 11 communities).

Tanzania held its fourth multi-party general elections on October 31, 2010. The ruling CCM party faced its most serious competition in the multi-party era. President Kikwete was re-elected with 61.7% of the vote, reduced from 80% in 2005. The Chadema party was for the first time the recipient of the most opposition votes. Chadema's presidential candidate, Willibrod Slaa, took 27% of the vote, while CUF's Ibrahim Lipumba received 8%. Voter turnout, at 42%, was by far the lowest in Tanzanian history; previously, at least 70% of registered voters had cast ballots. Although the elections were conducted without major disturbances or irregularities, Chadema officials raised concerns about voting and tabulation procedures and about the constitutional prohibition on challenging presidential election results following their formal announcement.

CCM retained its absolute majority in Parliament, with nearly 80% of the seats. With a total of 47 seats--24 elected and 23 "special seats" for women--Chadema for the first time displaced CUF as the official opposition and selected its Chairman, Freeman Mbowe, as opposition leader. The new Parliament selected Anne Makinda as Tanzania’s first woman Speaker of Parliament. Makinda, a member of Parliament since 1975 and former minister, had served as Deputy Speaker since 2005.

Self-governing Zanzibar (3% of Tanzania’s population) has long been the tempestuous exception to mainland Tanzania's peaceful politics. Serious irregularities and sporadic violence have marred every election in Zanzibar since 1964. However, after years of abortive negotiations the main opposition party, Civic United Front (CUF), and the ruling party were able to reach a power-sharing agreement. The outcome of the July 31, 2010 referendum set the stage for peaceful general elections on October 31 in Zanzibar. The power-sharing deal eliminated the winner-take-all system, giving the losing side one of two vice president slots and ministerial positions in proportion to the seats it holds in the House of Representatives. On October 31, Zanzibar CCM presidential candidate Ali Mohamed Shein won with 50.1% of the vote, while runner-up Civic United Front (CUF) presidential candidate Seif Sharif Hamad received 49.1%. Shein selected Hamad as his First Vice President and Seif Ali, the former Union Deputy Foreign Minister, as his Second Vice President.

After achieving independence, Tanzania's leadership emphasized supporting the efforts of other African nations to gain independence. It supported the struggle against the apartheid government of South Africa, championed some form of political union of African states, and promoted a non-aligned stance toward the Cold War antagonists. To these ends, Tanzania played an important role in regional and international organizations. Tanzania's first president, Julius Nyerere, was one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement. Additionally, Tanzania played an active role in the anti-apartheid front-line states, the G-77, and the Organization of African Unity (OAU). One of Africa's best-known elder statesmen, Nyerere was personally active in many of these organizations, and served as chairman of the OAU (1984-85) and chairman of the six front-line states. Nyerere's death, in October 1999, is solemnly observed each year.

Tanzania enjoys good relations with its neighbors in the region. Tanzania has long promoted efforts to resolve chronic conflicts, especially in the Great Lakes region. Tanzania helped to broker peace talks to end the conflict in Burundi. In March 1996, Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya revived discussion of economic and regional cooperation. These talks culminated with the signing of an East African Cooperation Treaty in September 1999. The East African Community (EAC) customs union came into effect January 1, 2005 and its Common Market Protocol entered into force on July 1, 2010. Rwanda and Burundi joined the EAC as full members in 2007. Tanzania is the only country in East Africa which also is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). Tanzania was a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council from 2005-2006. President Kikwete chaired the African Union for a 1-year term in 2009-2010. In March 2008, the Tanzanian military led an African Union-authorized force to restore government authority on one of the islands of the Comoros archipelago. Long a host to substantial refugee populations, in 2009 Tanzania granted citizenship to 162,000 Burundi refugees. Tanzania's participation in UN peacekeeping missions includes deployments to Lebanon and Sudan.


CIA World Factbook (December 2011)
U.S. Dept. of State Country Background Notes ( December 2011)