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Tanzania: Politics

Tanzania’s President and National Assembly members are elected concurrently by direct popular vote for five-year terms. The president appoints a prime minister who serves as the government’s leader in the National Assembly. The president selects his cabinet from among National Assembly members. The Constitution also empowers him to nominate ten non-elected members of Parliament, who also are eligible to become cabinet members. Elections for president and all National Assembly seats were held in December 2005. Tanzania is a one-party dominant state with the Chama Cha Mapinduzi in power. Opposition parties are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power, though the country remains peaceful.

The unicameral National Assembly elected in 2000 has 295 members. These 295 members include the Attorney General, five members elected from the Zanzibar House of Representatives to participate in the Parliament, the special women’s seats which are made up of 20 percent of the seats that a given party has in the House, 181 constituent seats of members of Parliament from the mainland, and 50 seats from Zanzibar. Also in the list are forty-eight appointed for women and the seats for the 10 nominated members of Parliament. At present, the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi holds about 93 percent of the seats in the Assembly. Laws passed by the National Assembly are valid for Zanzibar only in specifically designated union matters.

Zanzibar’s House of Representatives has jurisdiction over all non-union matters. There are currently seventy-six members in the House of Representatives in Zanzibar, including fifty elected by the people, ten appointed by the president of Zanzibar, five ex officio members, and an attorney general appointed by the president. In May 2002, the government increased the number of special seats allocated to women from ten to fifteen, which will increase the number of House of Representatives members to eighty-one. Ostensibly, Zanzibar’s House of Representatives can make laws for Zanzibar without the approval of the union government as long as it does not involve union-designated matters. The terms of office for Zanzibar’s president and House of Representatives also are five years. The semiautonomous relationship between Zanzibar and the union is a unique system of government.

Tanzania has a five-level judiciary combining the jurisdictions of tribal, Islamic, and British common law. Appeal is from the primary courts through the district courts, resident magistrate courts, to the high courts, and Court of Appeals. Judges are appointed by the Chief Justice of Tanzania, except those for the Court of Appeals and the High Court who are appointed by the president. The Zanzibari court system parallels the legal system of the union, and all cases tried in Zanzibari courts, except for those involving constitutional issues and Islamic law, can be appealed to the Court of Appeals of the union. A commercial court was established in September 1999 as a division of the High Court.

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