Zanzibar: 1957 Election

Updated 7 September 2010

Extracted from: "Zanzibar" IN Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa (2002), edited by Tom Lodge, Denis Kadima and David Pottie, EISA, 409.

The very first elections in Zanzibar took place in July 1957. The election was contested by political parties, ethnical associations and religions organisations. It became a contest between the Afro-Shirazi Party [ASP] and the Zanzibar Nationalist Party [ZNP]. The election aroused a lot of sensations in the country and most of the people who registered themselves as voters did vote. The ASP won the election overwhelmingly snatching five out of six contested seats. The sixth seat went to the Indian dominated Muslim Association. This was a humiliating defeat for the ZNP.

In 1960 the British Government appointed Sir Hillary Blood as constitutional commissioner to advise the British Government on all issues pertaining to constitutional development in Zanzibar. The commissioner made some remarkable proposals that include the creation of ministerial portfolios. He further suggested that the leader of any party that wins the majority seats in the legislative council should become the country's Chief Minister.

Other recommendations were that the Legislative Council should have twenty two elected representatives, electoral constituencies should be demarcated, women should have the right to vote and electoral qualifications such as such as possession of property or the achievement of a certain level education should be abolished. Following the acceptance of these recommendations by the British Government the election date was set for January 1961.

Voting statistics

Registered Voters 39 873
Total votes 35 980
% Turnout 90.24
Valid votes 35 361
Spoilt votes 619
% Spoilt votes 1.72

Table source

Fengler 1999, 879.


Note: According to Nunley (2006) the seat won by "Others" went to the Muslim Association.

Party Votes % Votes Seats
Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) 21 632 61.17 5
Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP) 7 761 21.95 0
Others 5 968 16.88 1
Total 35 361 100.00 6

Table source

Fengler 1999, 879, 882.


FENGLER, W 1999 "Kenya" IN Nohlen, D, Krennerich, M & Thibaut, B (eds) Elections in Africa: A Data Handbook, Oxford Publishers.

NUNLEY, AC 2006 "Elections in Tanzania" IN African Elections Database, [www] [opens new window] (accessed 7 Sep 2010).

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