Tanzania: National Electoral commission

Updated August 2010

Article 74 of the 1977 Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania provides for the establishment of the National Electoral Commission (NEC). In terms of Article 74(7) the commission is NEC its independence from other state structures. The statute relevant to the establishment of the NEC is the Elections Act 1 1985 (Kiravu 2005, 3; Constitution 1977, Article 74; Electoral Commissions Forum 2000, 21).


The President of the United Republic of Tanzania has the power to appoint the Chairperson of the Commission, the Vice-Chairperson and five other commissioners according to certain legislative requirements. The Chair and the Vice-Chair have to be judges of the High Court or the Court of Appeal of Tanzania. Either of the two has to come from the other side of the Union ie if the Chair is from the mainland then the vice-Chair has to come from Zanzibar, or vice versa (Constitution 1977, Article 74(1)-(3); Elections Act No 1 1985, 4(1)).

Section 4(1)(c) of the Elections Act No 1 1985 states that the another member of the Commission has to come from the Tanganyika Law Society. Section 4(1)(d) provides for the appointment of four other members who have experience in the conduct or supervision of parliamentary elections, or who have other qualifications considered necessary by the President for the effective performance of the Commission's functions (Elections Act No 1 1985; Commissions Forum 2000, 21).


The NEC is responsible for (Constitution 1977, Article 74(6); Kiravu 2005, 3, 4):

  • The supervision and coordination of voter registration.
  • The delimitation of constituencies and other electoral areas.
  • The supervision and coordination of elections.
  • To declare elected Members of Parliament and councillors for women's special seats.
  • Any other functions legislated by Parliament.

Since Zanzibar has its own Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) the Constitution requires that the two bodies consult with one another.

The NEC is responsible for Union presidential, parliamentary elections, as well as local elections, throughout the Union, while the ZEC is responsible for Zanzibari presidential and legislature elections only (Electoral Commissions Forum 2000, 23; Constitution 1977, Article 74(13)).

Terms of Office

The law establishing the Commission provides for the appointment of the seven members for a five-year term (Constitution 1977, Article 74(4); Electoral Commissions Forum 2000, 21).


The seven members of the NEC are (NEC 2010):

  • Justice Lewis M Makame (Chairperson)
  • Justice Omary O Makungu (Vice-Chairperson)
  • Prof Amon E Chaligha
  • Hillary J Mkate
  • Mchanga H Mjaka
  • Justice John Mkwakwa
  • Justice Mary Stella Longway

Director of Elections and the Secretariat

A Director of Elections is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the commission. The Constitution describes the role of the Director as "its chief executive" and the Director heads up the Secretariat of the Commission which is responsible for executing the decisions of the NEC (Constitution 1977, Article 74(7)). According to Masterson (2009, 540, 541): "For the 1995 elections, the Director of Election was Alex T Banzi, who was replaced by Rajabu R Kiravu prior to the 2000 elections. Kiravu was retained as Director of Elections for the 2005 polls" and indeed Kiravu continues as Director for the 2010 polls also (NEC 2010).

Staffing, logistics and cost of elections

See Election staff and logistics and Cost of elections


The NEC has produced a report on each election conducted between 1995 and 2005:

  • 1997 The Report of the National Electoral Commission on the 1995 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections
  • 2001 The Report of the National Electoral Commission on the 2000 Presidential, Parliamentary and Councilors' Elections
  • 2006 The Report of the National Electoral Commission on the 2005 Presidential, Parliamentary and Councilors' Elections


CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA 1977 (CAP 2), [www] http://www.policeforce.go.tz/pdf/REPUBLIC.pdf, [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 8 Mar 2010).

ELECTIONS ACT 1 1985, as amended in 1990 and 1992.

ELECTORAL COMMISSIONS FORUM OF SADC COUNTRIES 2000, Tanzania elections Observer Mission Report.

KIRAVU, RR 2005, 3 "Improving elections in Tanzania", IN Improving the quality of election management, a conference of Commonwealth Chief Election Officers, [www] http://www.thecommonwealth.org/shared_asp_files/uploadedfiles/DB8390B7-7B94-4A89- 8FEB-D514F40AEA25_PaperbyMrKiravu.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 23 Feb 2010).

NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (NEC) 2010 "NEC Members", [www] http://www.nec.go.tz/?modules=about&sub&op=member [opens new window] (accessed 27 Aug 2010).

Official web site

National Electoral Commission: [www] http://www.nec.go.tz/ [opens new window] (accessed 11 Feb 2010).


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