Zanzibar: Electoral system

Updated November 2010

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Legal and institutional framework

Legal basis
  • Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania 1977
  • Constitution of Zanzibar 1984
  • Election Act 1984
  • Zanzibar Municipal Council Act 1995
  • District and Town Councils Act 1995
  • Political Parties Act Cap 258
Electoral system House of Representatives: 50 members elected from single member constituencies by plurality through universal adult franchise elections; about 25% of all seats allocated by proportional representation for the representation of women[1]
President: Directly elected by universal adult franchise by plurality of votes[2]
Electoral management bodies (EMBs) Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) is responsible for constituency delimitation, voter registration, conduct of elections and publication of results and is assisted by a Director of Elections[3]
Independence of electoral institutions Members of the ZEC are appointed by the President and may be removed for failing to discharge duties or misconduct; the ZEC is not obliged to accept instructions from any external body[4]
Political parties Parties are regulated by the national Political Parties Act; only registered parties may participate in elections, no independent candidates are permitted[6]
Party registration is undertaken by the Registrar of Political Parties, who falls under the executive of the Union[7]
Party funding and finances: Funding of political parties by the State was abolished in 2000; private donations must be disclosed to the Registrar of Political Parties; funds received from abroad must be disclosed[8]
Civil society Civil society engagement in the electoral process tends to focus on civic and voter education and observation of elections[9]
Mass media The ZEC issues directives with the force of law to state media to provide equal opportunities for parties[10]

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Election management

Election period and dates Presidential and parliamentary elections every 5 years, not necessarily concurrently[11]
Presidential and House of Representative election days are determined by the ZEC; polling times are determined by returning officers[12]
Delimitation of constituencies The demarcation of constituencies is the function of the ZEC and it reviews delimitation every 8-10 years; constituencies should have equal populations, but factors such as density, population growth, communications and administrative boundaries must be taken into account[13]
Voter registration and voters' rolls The ZEC is responsible for maintaining a permanent and continuously updated voters' register and appoints registration officials to assist; prospective voters must satisfy registration officials that they are qualified to be registered in the voting district and are issued with a voter's card; any person may make application to the Director or registration officer to inspect the voters' rolls[14]
Voter education The ZEC is tasked by law with the promotion and co-ordination of voter education; the ZEC accredits voter education programmes[15]
Candidate nomination House of Representatives: A candidate must be a Zanzabari of at least 21 years, qualified to register as a voter, speak Kiswahili, be proposed by a political party, pay a deposit and have the nomination endorsed by 25 voters in the constituency[16]
Presidential: A candidate must be a Zanzabari by birth, at least 40 years old, qualified to be a member of the House of Representatives, be proposed by a political party, pay a deposit and have the nomination endorsed by 200 voters[17]
Election observation National and international observers are accredited by the ZEC and are issued with a Code of Conduct[18]
Election campaigns Guidelines on the Code of Ethics for Political Parties was issued for the 2010 election by the ZEC; campaign meetings are prohibited at places of education and worship[19]
The ZEC determines the campaign period, which begins the day after nomination day and ends 24 hours before election day; all rallies and gatherings must have the written permission of the local police commissioner[20]
Conflict prevention and management The constitution prohibits enquiry by the courts into "anything done by the Electoral Commission in performance of its functions"[21]. All other electoral petitions are heard by the High Court[22].
Election staff and logistics Registration and returning officers are appointed by the ZEC; registration officials and polling staff are appointed by registration and returning officers[23]
Voters' rolls and candidate lists are displayed outside polling stations 8 days before election day[24]
Secrecy of the ballot The polling booths must be placed so as to shield the voters from observation while they mark their ballots; voters requiring assistance in marking their ballots may choose another person to assist them[26]
Voting and counting process In presence of candidates, their agents the presiding officer demonstrates ballot boxes are empty and seals them[27]
A voter presents voters' card, is issued with a ballot paper, marks the paper next to candidate of choice in a ballot booth voter and folds it, leaves and places the ballot in a ballot box in the presence of the presiding officer; the voter's finger is marked with indelible ink[28]
After the close of the poll counting takes place, as soon as is practical, at the polling stations by presiding officer in presence of electoral officials, party agents, candidates and observers[29]
Announcement of results Copies of the results are posted outside the polling station and issued to party agents by the presiding officer; equipment, documentation ballot papers are packaged and sealed and delivered to the returning officer[30]
Returning officer summates the results submitted by the presiding officer and publishes/announces the final results in a public; retuning officer then submits the results to the NEC who publishes it in the government Gazette[31]

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Table notes

[1] Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania 1977, 105, 107; Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Article 65(1), 67(1), 120(2). The number of members is not specified, Article 120 requiring between 40 and 55, but since 1995 there have been 50 constituencies.
[2] Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania 1977, 103, 104; Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Article 27, 34; Election Act 1984, 42(4).
[3] Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Article 119.
[4] Election Act 1984, 5-7. The National Elections Commission of Tanzania conducts elections for the Union presidency, parliament and local government. The ZEC conducts elections for the Zanzibari President and the House of Representatives.
[6] Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Articles 26(2)(d), 68(d).
[7] Political Parties Act, 4(1).
[8] Ahluwalia & Zegeye 2001; Political Parties Act (13(2)). A foreign donor basket was set up after the withdrawal of State funding to provide funds for political parties.
[9] Masterson 2009, 522.
[10] ZEC 2010b. In 2010 media stakeholders subscribed to a "Media Code of Conduct for Election Reporting in Zanzibar 2010" (Editors Forum Workshop 2010).
[11] Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Articles 28(3), 92(1). Though concurrent elections have been held since 1995, the terms of the two may become unsynchronised: If the office of the President becomes vacant (due to death, resignation etc) before four years of the five year term has been served then presidential elections must be held within 120 days (Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, 34(1)(i)). Moreover, the President may dissolve the House of Representative prematurely and an election of a new House must be held with 90 days (Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Articles 90(1), 91(2)). See also Election Act 1984, 51(2).
[12] Election Act 1984, 38(1), 51(1), 52(1). Polling conventionally is undertaken between 07:00 and 16:00. Where voters are still waiting to cast their ballots at closing time they are permitted to vote (Election Act 1984, 75).
[13] Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Article 120.
[14] Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Article 65(3); Election Act 1984, 8, 13, 17(1), 23. New voters are inscribed annually (ZEC 2007, 6). As regards inspection of the voters' rolls the ILPI (2010, 5) observer report noted: "In practice these rules allow for a seven day period where the voter register is displayed at each polling station across both Unguja and Pemba. Voters can then come to ensure that their information is correct and that they are in the register".
[15] Election Act 1984, Article 5(b); ZEC 2008, 3.
[16] Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Article 68; Election Act 1984, 46-47. The deposit is refundable if the candidate dies, does not withdraw and obtains 10% or more of the vote (ZEC 2008, 32).
[17] Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Article 26(2); Election Act 1984, 31-32, 34. The deposit is refundable if the candidate dies, does not withdraw and obtains 10% or more of the vote (ZEC 2008, 32).
[18] Election Act 1984, 79(h); ZEC 2010c.
[19] ZEC 2010a; Election Act 1984, 56(4).
[20] Masterson 2009, 534; ZEC 2008, 33(1). Political parties are required to submit their campaign programmes to the Director of Elections or Returning Officer (for presidential and legislative elections respectively) prior to the commencement of the campaign period and adhere to the coordinated programme issued by the Director of Elections or Returning Officer (ZEC 2008, 33(3), 34-38).
[21] Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Article 119(13), See also Article 34(7) which places the declaration by the ZEC of that a candidate has been elected as President beyond judicial review.
[22] Constitution of Zanzibar 1984, Article 72; Election Act 1984, 115.
[23] Election Act 1984, 8, 10, 63(b),(c); ZEC 2008, 10-15; ZEC 2007, 3-5.
[24] Election Act 1984, 63(e); ZEC 2008, 41(2).
[26] Election Act 1984, 63(d), 68(3)(d),(h),(k).
[27] Election Act 1984, 65(2), 70(2).
[28] Election Act 1984, 68(3); ZEC 2008, 49.
[29] Election Act 1984, 78.
[30] Election Act 1984, 80B.
[31] Election Act 1984, 81-83, 88.

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References

AHLUWALIA, P & ZEGEYE, A 2001 "Multiparty Democracy in Tanzania: Crises in the Union" IN African Security Review 10(3), [www] http://www.iss.co.za/Pubs/ASR/10No3/AhluwaliaAndZegeye.html [opens new window] (accessed 9 Mar 2010).

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA 1977 (CAP 2), [www] http://www.tz.undp.org/ESP/docs/Legal_Documents/Tanzania_Constitution.pdf, [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 Nov 2010).

CONSTITUTION OF ZANZIBAR 1984, came into effect on January 12, 1985, includes amendments up to 2002 (see also 2010 Constitutional referendum results), [www] http://www.tz.undp.org/ESP/docs/Legal_Documents/Zanzibar_Constitution.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 12 Nov 2010).

EDITORS FORUM WORKSHOP 2010 "Media Code of Conduct for Election Reporting in Zanzibar 2010", [www] http://www.tz.undp.org/ESP/docs/Legal_Documents/Media_Code_of_Conduct_for_election_reporting_Znz2010.PDF [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 Nov 2010).

ELECTION ACT 1984, includes all amendments up to 2004, [www] http://www.tz.undp.org/ESP/docs/Legal_Documents/ZEA_No11_%282010%29.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 12 Nov 2010).

INTERNATIONAL LAW AND POLICY INSTITUTE (ILPI) 2010 "The Voter Display and Dispute Process: The Final Step in the PVR Process", 27 June, [www] http://www.ilpi.org/ILPI/Documents_files/33_Display-Dispute-process.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 16 Nov 2010).

MASTERSON, G 2009 "Chapter 13: Tanzania and Zanzibar" IN Denis Kadima and Susan Booysen (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy, EISA, Johannesburg.

POLITICAL PARTIES ACT CAP 258, includes all amendment until 2006, [www] http://www.tz.undp.org/ESP/docs/Legal_Documents/The_Political_Parties_Act_Cap-258.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 Nov 2010).

ZANZIBAR ELECTORAL COMMISSION (ZEC) 2007 "Regulations for updating the voter's register 2007", [www] http://www.zec.go.tz/docs/regulations_voters.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 15 Nov 2010).

ZANZIBAR ELECTORAL COMMISSION (ZEC) 2008 "Elections Regulations 2008", [www] http://www.zec.go.tz/docs/regulations_elections.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 12 Nov 2010).

ZANZIBAR ELECTORAL COMMISSION (ZEC) 2010a "Guidelines on the Code of Ethics for Political Parties Participating in the 2010 General Elections", [www] http://www.tz.undp.org/ESP/docs/Legal_Documents/2010_ZEC_Code_of_Ethics_for_Political_Parties.PDF [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 8 Nov 2010).

ZANZIBAR ELECTORAL COMMISSION (ZEC) 2010b "Code of Conduct for State-Owned Media on Coverage of Election Campaigns of Political Party Candidates", [www] http://www.tz.undp.org/ESP/docs/Legal_Documents/2010_ZEC_Code_of_Conduct_for_state-owned_Media.PDF [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 Nov 2010).

ZANZIBAR ELECTORAL COMMISSION (ZEC) 2010c "Guidelines for Local and International Observers", [www] http://www.tz.undp.org/ESP/docs/Legal_Documents/2010_ZEC_Guidelines_for_local-intern_observers.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 9 Nov 2010).

 
 

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