Tanzania Government and Politics

Following the constitution of 1977 is Tanzania a united republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar (Zanzibar also has its own constitution from 1985). The supreme executive is appointed a president, elected together with a vice president in general elections for five years; he can be re-elected once. The president heads the government and is also military commander. The government is nominated by the President among the members of the National Assembly. Legislative authority has been added to the National Assembly, elected for five years. It has 232 directly elected members and 42 nominated members (37 women representatives, five representatives of Zanzibar House of Representatives). The Assembly adopts laws for the entire country and for Tanganyika. Laws that only apply to Zanzibar are passed by the island’s House of Representatives. Zanzibar executive has been added to a president-elect for five years. He appoints a prime minister, and together they designate the rest of the government. The legislative authority resides with the House of Representatives, with 75 members; 50 elected officials, five seats for regional commissioners, 10 for presidential members and 10 for women.

Tanzania Country Flag

The tension between the Muslim-dominated Zanzibar and the religious pluralist (Christian groups constitute a majority) Tanganyika has a destabilizing effect on the regime. The two states have, in part, functioned separately, although Zanzibar politicians are now more actively involved in the United States’ politics.


Administratively, Tanzania is divided into 26 regions, 21 on the mainland and 5 on Zanzibar. The regions are further divided into districts. Each of these units is administered by a government representative, a top official and elected council. At village level, there are village assemblies that anyone over the age of 18 can attend.


The country has a permanent commission of inquiry, led by an ombudsman, to investigate abuse of public authority. The judiciary consists at the top of an appeals court, presided over by a justice and four appeals judges. It is a special justice for Zanzibar. Furthermore, there is a court based in Dar-es-Salaam, which holds meetings in all regions, district courts (magistrates’ courts) and primary courts (headed by primary court magistrates). The last two sets of courts have limited jurisdiction. There is a right of appeal from the district courts to the supreme court and from the primary courts to a district court and then to the supreme court.

Presidents of Tanzania

Overview of Presidents in Tanzania:

Year President
1962-1985 Julius K. Nyerere (TANU/CCM)
1985-1995 Ali Hassan Mwinyi (CCM)
1995-2005 Benjamin W. Mkapa (CCM)
2005-2015 Jakaya Kikwete (CCM)
2015- John Pombe Magufuli (CCM)

Tanzania Head of Government


At the beginning of the 21st century, Tanzania was characterized by a weak economy, due to the scarcity of raw materials, the large predominance of a relatively backward agricultural sector and a marked dependence on foreign aid; and this despite the impetus for development given by the liberalization measures launched, starting from the second half of the 1990s, by President BW Mkapa (elected in 1995), which had gained the trust of international organizations and foreign investors. From a political point of view, the beginning of the new century saw, after a phase of conflict, the internal tension caused by the separatist tendencies of the Zanzibar archipelago (constituting an autonomous administrative unit, with its own president and parliament) easing; However, the process of democratization still seem to suffer the predominance of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, Party for the Revolution, the former single party founded by JK Nyerere, president of Tanzania up to 1985), who was able to manage it the transition to multi-partyism (1992-1995) was not traumatic.

In 1999, after the death of Nyerere, who despite his retirement from political life had continued to represent an element of stability also in relations between the continental part of the country and Zanzibar, the discussion on the degree of autonomy of the archipelago and more generally on the institutional form of the state. This theme characterized the presidential and parliamentary elections of October 2000, but the outcome of the consultations, clearly favorable to the ruling party, was contested by the Civic United Front (CUF), the main opposition party (rooted above all in Zanzibar, for which it asked for greater autonomy), which accused the government of fraud and did not accept the response from the polls. The consultations had assigned the victory to Mkapa for the presidency of the Tanzania and to AA Karume for that of Zanzibar, respectively with 71.7 % and 67 % of the votes, while the two candidates of the CUF, IH Lipumba and SS Hamad, they had conquered 16.3 % and 33 %; the CCM had obtained 202 seats out of the 232 electives in the Parliament of the Tanzania and in that of Zanzibar 34 out of the 50 electives, while the CUF had won only 17and 16. The immediate denunciation by the opposition of fraud in the electoral operations held in the archipelago and the confirmation of misconduct by international observers forced the government to admit the irregularities. Accidents and bloody attacks seemed to plunge the country to the brink of the crisis, but in October 2001 the CCM and the CUF reached an agreement, which included amendments to the Constitution of Zanzibar aimed at ensuring greater transparency in the electoral process and wider political viability for the opposition..

The 2005 elections were preceded by a resumption of political conflicts over Zanzibar’s position within the federated state; the growing activism in the archipelago of radical Islamic groups that claimed a greater political role for the Muslim community, in contrast to its institutional representatives, contributed to these tensions. The elections took place, however, in October in Zanzibar and in December in Tanzania, in an atmosphere of tranquility and, despite some incidents, in substantial compliance with the rules. They marked a new success for the CCM, with the election to the presidency of the Tanzania (with 80.3 %) of JM Kikwete, already long-time foreign minister, and the confirmation in Zanzibar of Karume (53.2%); in the two parliaments, the CCM obtained 206 and 31 seats respectively. On the other hand, the CUF saw confirmed its role as the largest opposition party: in the two presidential elections it obtained (through its candidates, once again Lipumba and Hamad) 11.7 % and 46.1 %, and in parliamentary ones 19 and 18 representatives. Kikwete confirmed the choices of his predecessor, both in domestic and foreign politics and reiterated the urgency of a solution for Zanzibar. In this context, the early years of the century saw the strengthening of regional agreements with Kenya and Uganda, which took shape in March 2004in a protocol for the formation of a customs union and the elimination of duties on most of the goods traded by the three countries.

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