THE PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA

The speaker of the National Assembly, Chief Adam Sapi Mkwawa chaired the entire 38 day budget session of the Assembly in 1986 without the assistance of the Deputy Speaker, Ndugu Austin Shaba according to the Daily News. Ndugu Shaba had been pre-occupied by an election petition against him in Mtwara. Chief Mkwawa said that the long session had given him an opportunity to get to know the new members and for them to get to know him. Nevertheless, in spite of this heavy workload he has kindly taken time to prepare a comprehensive article for the Bulletin on Tanzania’s Parliament, the first part of which is as follows – Editor

The United Republic of Tanzania is a union of the two sovereign states of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Tanganyika was under German rule from 1884 to the end of the First World War and the country then remained under the League of Nations with the British Government as the governing authority. Although World War I ended in 1918, British rule did not come in until 1920. From 1920 to 1926 there was no legislature as such. In 1927 a legislative council was established and the members were colonial officers. From 1927 until the end of World War II there was no African representation on the council, but the interests of the Africans were represented by the white members. However, in the 1930s, nominations were made of European and Asian unofficial members to represent the interests of the Africans and Asians respectively. In 1947 new African Chiefs were nominated to the legislative council. These were the first African members. This trend of nominations continued for about twelve years. In 1958-59 Africans were given the opportunity to elect their representatives. During this election, voting rights and candidacy depended heavily on property and education.

With the birth of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) in 1954 and political changes in other African countries, such as Ghana and Nigeria, African elected representation was accelerated. As a result of this political consciousness general elections were held in 1960, which were contested by TANU and other political parties. TANU won all the contested seats except one which was won by an independent. As a result of this overwhelming victory of TANU under the leadership of Mwalimu Nyerere, there was no alternative for the British Government except to convene a constitutional conference in early 1961, leading to independence on 9th December 1961. Mwalimu Nyerere became the first Prime Minister and on 9th December 1962 Tanganyika became a republic and Mwalimu J.K. Nyerere the first Executive President.

After the disastrous defeat of the other parties in the general elections of 1960 and in the local government elections afterwards (all opposition candidates lost their deposits) the opposition parties willingly disbanded and Tanganyika became de facto a One-Party State. African political consciousness was not confined to Tanganyika alone, for in Zanzibar the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) was formed in 1957 under the leadership of the late Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume. Elections were contested by the Afro-Shirazi Party and other political parties, but despite a majority in favour of the Afro-Shirazi Party the other parties got more seats in Parliament. The British Colonial Government handed over power to the minority Arabs. The African majority was dissatisfied and did not feel bound to accept the results of the elections and the Government which was formed. The African majority under the leadership of the ASP took up arms and overthrew the Government of Zanzibar on 12th January 1964. As a result of the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar on 26th April 1964 the United Republic of Tanzania was born.

Following the union there was an Interim Constitution which enabled the two entities to co-operate in some matters and provided for Zanzibar’s representation in the Union Parliament. In 1965 there was a general election under the Interim Constitution and also the first presidential election for the United Republic, at which Mwalimu Nyerere was elected by about 98% of the voters under a system of adult suffrage. Under the Interim Constitution Tanzania became a One-Party State, with TANU for the mainland and the ASP for Zanzibar. In 1977 the Interim Constitution gave place to the permanent Constitution of the United Republic, which continues to operate to this day. This Constitution enabled the people of Zanzibar to hold their first elections to the Union Parliament based on adult suffrage. In 1977 also TANU and the ASP were amalgamated to form the Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) as the One-Party of both the mainland and Zanzibar.

In accordance with the Constitution of 1977 there are two governments in the United Republic of Tanzania, that is, the Union Government and the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar. The Union Government is responsible for all Union matters as stipulated by the Constitution and all non-Union matters relating to Tanzania mainland. The Union Government is headed by an Executive President, who is also Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar is responsible for all natters pertaining to Zanzibar which are not Union matters as specified by the Union Constitution, Zanzibar is headed by a President, who is also one of the Vice-Presidents of the United Republic of Tanzania and Chairman of the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council.

Chief A.S Mkwawa – Speaker of the National Assembly

This article will be continued in the next issue of the Bulletin. -Editor

1 Comment »

  1. Tanzanian Affairs said,

    March 13, 2011 at 9:21 am

    […] THE PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA (The second part of the article begun in Bulletin No. 26) […]

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