Tanzania Parties and Elections

The programmatic differences between the political parties in Tanzania are not very marked. On the mainland, which makes up 80% of the electoral districts, the dominance of the old Unity Party is unbroken even after the fifth democratic elections: The Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, Swahili: Party of the Revolution) makes up 58% of the members of the Union parliament – albeit less than in of the last legislative period. This “people’s party” once shaped “African socialism”, but today it pursues a more pragmatic market economy line. On the mainland, the anchoring of political parties in society is making slow progress and voter turnout has dropped significantly. Only the Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA, Swahili: Party of Democracy and Development), which can best be assigned to the Christian-conservative spectrum, has seen its first successes here. In the semi-autonomous part of Zanzibar, however, the Muslim Civic United Front (CUF), which describes itself as a liberal party, is very strong and is now even involved in the government.

On October 25, 2015, the election for a new president, a new parliament and new city and local councils took place in Tanzania. On the mainland, the incumbent President Jakaya Kikwete was no longer allowed to run after two legislative terms. By and large, the election there was fair and peaceful on election day. The CCM party, which had ruled since 1961, was able to secure its power again – despite the loss of votes and seats – and to appoint a new president in John Magufuli. In the first few weeks after taking office, he took radical measures that denounced the corruption in the country and unnecessary government spending by government officials and brought about changes in government processes.

According to official information, the CCM received 58% of the vote and thus secured an absolute majority in parliament, while the opposition alliance “Ukawa” received 40% of the vote.

On the island of Zanzibar, however, allegations of electoral fraud were raised after the opposition declared their victory a few hours after the election and several irregularities subsequently became known. The election was then canceled by the election commission president and new elections were announced within 90 days. Until then, President Ali Mohamed Shein remained in office. After the announcement of the cancellation, however, there were fights between relatives of both parties. Fortunately, there were no excessive outbreaks of violence among the population – partly due to a high military presence. In March 2016, new elections took place in Zanzibar, but these were boycotted by the opposition party CUFwere. The incumbent President Shein won the election with 91.4% and started his second term.

Election campaign in Tanzania

2020 election

According to commit4fitness, parliamentary and presidential elections were held again in Tanzania on October 28, 2020. The incumbent President John Magufuli (CCM Party) was re-elected with an overwhelming majority of 84% (12.5 million votes). His challenger Tundu Lissu (CHADEMA party) got 13% (1.9 million votes). According to the electoral commission, the turnout was around 50%.

Magufuli’s party was also able to win a landslide in parliament. There she won 261 of the 264 seats. With this result, the incumbent ruling party almost completely ousted the opposition from parliament. However, the opposition does not want to recognize the result and speaks of massive electoral fraud. On the day of the election and in the days that followed, there were increasing numbers of indications and allegations of manipulation and election fraud through pre-filled ballot papers, multiple votes and intimidation.

The CCM party was also able to record growth on the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba and surprisingly prevailed against the young opposition party ACT-Wazalendo there.

Only in July did the opposition politician and sharp critic Magufulis Tundu Lissu return from exile in Belgium, where he underwent treatment after he had been shot several times in an attack three years ago. Lissu, who was received enthusiastically on his arrival, denounces Magufuli’s handling of COVID-19 as well as his repressive course against all opposition and critical journalism. Among other things, before the election, the government issued a new ordinance that restricted the cooperation of local and international media, which further undermines the freedom of the press.


Transparency International ranks Tanzania 96th out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perception Index. Even if Tanzania’s ranking compared to other African countries is still comparatively good, corruption represents a significant obstacle to development because too many people enrich themselves or gain advantages at the expense of the general public. The East African Bribery Index 2017 Report describes the situation in great detail and places Tanzania in second place behind Burundi among the five member states of the East African Community. The Tanzanian police are considered regionally as well as internationally corrupted and bribable. Tanzania’s police force ranks second among East African countries for their susceptibility to corruption. The perception of the Tanzanian population also confirms the widespread corruption in the country, especially in connection with the extraction and export of natural resources in the country. Tanzania is currently discussing whether the national anti-corruption agency PCCB should take over extended powers to prosecute serious corruption cases.

In 2007 and 2008 the headlines in and about Tanzania were dominated by corruption scandals – ministers, even the Prime Minister (Lowassa), had to vacate their posts. In 2012 a massive misuse of public funds in several ministries became known, as a result of which the then President Kikwete dismissed seven ministers. The current president has made the fight against corruption a ‘flagship issue’.

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