Tanzania Political System

The legal system of Tanzania is based on the example of Great Britain, but there is a local pluralism of legal systems in which autochthonous law or, for example, Islamic law can also apply. The separation of powers is fundamentally guaranteed in Tanzania (whereby the executive branch dominates due to the large majority of the ruling party) and the judiciary is independent. However, it is considered to be highly inefficient, underfunded and even corrupt, which often calls into question speedy and fair jurisdiction. The legislature has so far limited autonomy and needs further institutional development to compensate for the dominance of the executive branch.

The current constitution dates from 1977, and should actually be reformed in 2015. However, the process of constitutional reform, which was initiated by former President Kikwete, has been postponed until further notice.

According to cheeroutdoor, Tanzania is officially a federal presidential republic, but still shows strong central state traits. It is divided into 30 regions (25 on the mainland, 3 on Unguja, the main island of Zanzibar, and 2 on the island of Pemba, which is also part of Zanzibar), which in turn are divided into districts. Zanzibar is part of the Union, but has its own House of Representatives, a President and an executive responsible for internal affairs, giving this part of the country extensive autonomy.

The President of Tanzania is Head of State and Government and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Together with the Vice-President, the Prime Minister (who runs the ‘day-to-day business’ of the government), the President of Zanzibar and the Cabinet of Ministers, he provides the country’s executive. The National Assembly(‘Bunge’) forms the legislature (parliament) of Tanzania. It consists of 357 MPs (with the Federal Public Prosecutor as a member ‘ex officio’), of which only 239 are directly elected in the constituencies for five years after the majority vote. In addition, after the last parliamentary election, 102 women were accepted by the parties, according to their share of the vote, in order to guarantee the proportion of women of at least 30% required by the constitution. In addition, the President nominates 10 more MPs and the Zanzibari House of Representatives five MPs.

The election in 2015 was won by John Magufuli with 58% of the vote. The election results also showed that the religious affiliation of top politicians (Magufuli is Catholic), despite the conflicts in Zanzibar, played a subordinate role for the voters. Right from the start, the CCM tried to find a balance when nominating the presidential candidates: Nyerere and Mkapa (first and third presidents), as members of the Catholic Church, were replaced by the Muslims Mwinyi and Kikwete (second and fourth presidents). The incumbent President John Magufuli is accordingly a Christian.

Magufuli holds a PhD in chemistry and held several ministerial posts in recent years before being elected fifth president of Tanzania in October 2015. Since taking office, Magufuli has made headlines with a consistent course against corruption, poverty and state inefficiency and initially received a lot of international and national recognition. For example, he fired almost 10,000 officers who had used fake certificates in their application.

However, in the past two years there have been increasing objections and complaints about his authoritarian style of governance, denouncing his actions against critics of his policies and his increasing restrictions on freedom of the press and expression. Critics and human rights activists also condemn his handling of the corona pandemic and accuse him of concealing the number of corona infections and deaths in Tanzania. Magufuli declared the country “Corona-free” in May 2020. Since then, no official infection numbers have been announced.

The first president of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere (1962-1985) and his successors Ali Hassan Mwinyi (1985-1995), Benjamin William Mkapa (1995-2005), Jakaya Kikwete (2005-2015) were all representatives of the ‘revolutionary party’ Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).

John Magufuli

Julius Kambarage Nyerere shaped Tanganyika / Tanzania from independence until long after his voluntary resignation as President in 1985 like no other. The population called the ‘father of the nation’ with great respect ‘Mwalimu’ (= teacher, alluding to his original profession and the ability to convincingly convey his ideals and political ideas). Julius Nyerere died in 1999.

Decentralization is an important instrument for promoting democracy and participation. Since the end of the 1990’s in particular, political, financial and administrative responsibilities have increasingly been shifted from central government to local government authorities at district level (District Councils, etc.), where local elections take place every 5 years. The German development cooperation was involved.

The Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance has been examining the quality of governance in all African countries every year since 2007. Tanzania is currently ranked 19th (out of 54) in the top half of African countries. Tanzania’s development shows a slight deterioration in the past few years and shows results slightly above average in the areas of security and rule of law, as well as in human development. The area of participation and human rights is below the African average.

The Bertelsmann Transformation Index (BTI) gives the mainland a flattering report by African standards, but also describes the last elections in Zanzibar as neither free nor fair. In the less comprehensive Freedomhouse ranking, Tanzania is considered “partially free” (and is a little worse off than all of its neighboring countries).

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