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Tanzania - Government

A referendum was set for 30 April 2015 on a new constitution. The proposed draft largely preserved the current 2-government structure (a union government that also governs the mainland, and a government for Zanzibar). The new constitution would replace one passed in 1977, when the state was under one-party rule. On 02 April 2015 the electoral commission said it had not received enough Biometric Voters Registration (BVR) kits to enable the vote on the constitution to take place as planned on April 30.

Before quitting the constitutional assembly in April 2014, opposition parties and civil society groups had sought limits on presidential powers and a federal system of government. The new constitution was then approved without a quorum by an assembly dominated by President Jakaya Kikwete's Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, which had been in power since Tanzania's independence from Britain in 1961.

In the new constitution, the Tanganyika government would have its own President, parliament and other organs. The union government would be leaner, with about 15 cabinet members and a parliament that does not exceed 75 members. The Zanzibar Isles will retain their own semi-autonomous government under the new arrangement as was the case under the old.

The draft retained some opposition proposals, including the establishment of an independent electoral commission and allowing for the first time legal challenges to presidential election results. The new basic law also set a limit on how many cabinet ministers can appointed by the president, introduced a 50-50 gender representation in parliament and gave women equal land ownership rights with men.

The cry for a need of a new Constitution in the United Republic of Tanzania picked up steam in 2010. In the past the demand for a new Constitution had come up sharply on two occasions. First, during the Nyalali Commission on One Party or Multiparty of 1991 which recommended for the introduction of a multiparty political system in the country in 1992 vide the 8th Constitutional Amendment which was implemented by the Political Parties Act, 1992 (Act No. 5 of 1992).

Second, in 1998 the then President of the United Republic of Tanzania Mr. Benjamin William Mkapa formed a Committee on White Paper under Hon. Dr. Justice (retired) Robert Habesh Kisanga. The problem with the White Paper was that it posed questions and provided answers on issues which the government of the day thought were of constitutional importance.

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 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).

Villagization was undertaken to make the village the basic economic and political unit. From 1969 to 1975 rural Tanzanians were induced, and sometimes forced, to move into villages from the countryside where they were scattered. In 1970 there were less than 5% of the population living in villages. By 1977, about 80% of the total population was living in 7,700 villages with an average size of about 1,700. The political system was developed to manage the affairs of the village and to connect it to the national government. The sometimes forced movement of people into villages under the policy of ujamaa (collective production) resulted in better health and education services and the creation of a Tanzanian identity, but it was by all accounts not an economic success.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli fired around 10,000 civil servants for being in possession of fake academic certificates. The president ordered that those affected leave their work stations by 15 May 2017 or else they would face arrest and prosecution. The 10,000 servants account for just over two percent of the East African nations civil servants. They also face the risk of facing prosecution if found guilty of fraud, a charge that could earn them up to seven years in jail. The investigation only looked into secondary school qualifications of officials in local government, public institutions and government agencies and has not examined university degree certificates. President Magufulis administration has been on a path to reduce government expenditure. Last year, the president banned needless travels abroad by government officials.

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Page last modified: 01-05-2017 18:56:20 ZULU