THE PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA

(The second part of the article begun in Bulletin No. 26)

The Parliament of the United Republic is unicameral. It is composed of the National Assembly and the President of the United Republic. The President is not a member of the National Assembly but he assents to all Bills passed by the Assembly before they become Acts of Parliament.

The National Assembly’s role is to supervise Government in the implementation of Party policies through legislation. It is also responsible for passing the annual budget of the Government. The National Assembly. or its committees, can question Government Ministries on all matters under their jurisdiction. The present composition of the National Assembly is as follows:
– Constituency Members (Mainland 119, Zanzibar 50) = 169
– National Members chosen by Parliament = 15
– Regional Commissioners ex-officio (20 Mainland, 5 Zanzibar) = 25
– Members elected by the House of Representatives of Zanzibar = 5
– Members nominated by the President (5 from Zanzibar) = 15
– Women members (special seats for women; 5 from Zanzibar) = 15
Total 244

A candidate for election as a Constituency Member of Parliament must have the following qualifications:
– he must be a citizen of Tanzania not less than 21 years of age;
– be must be a Member of the CCM and must abide by the provisions of the Party Constitution;
– he is disqualified if he is:
– under a declaration of allegiance to some other country than the United Republic;
– under any law in Tanzania adjudged to be of unsound mind;
– under sentence of death or a sentence of imprisonment exceeding six months; – detained under the Preventive Detention Act of 1962 for a period exceeding six months; or,
– an undischarged bankrupt having been adjudged or declared bankrupt under any written law.

In order to be validly nominated at a primary nomination to stand as a candidate for a constituency a person must be nominated in writing by not less than twenty five voters registered in a polling district within the constituency for which he is a candidate. Any number of candidates can be nominated in a constituency provided that they are all Party members and fulfil other qualifications required by law. By 4p.m. on a day assigned by the Electoral Commission as nomination day all forms must be submitted to the returning officers.

As soon as practicable after the primary nomination a special meeting of the District Party Conference is convened. This Conference is itself composed of elected Party members. The main purpose of the District Party Conference is to cast preferential votes. The Returning Officer presents each candidate to the Conference by reading his particulars from the nomination papers filed by each candidate. Each candidate must be given a fair and equal opportunity to answer questions put to him by the members of the District Conference.

Having discussed the merits and suitability of each candidate, the Conference Members then proceed to vote by secret ballot for the candidate they think is most suitable. To ensure that each candidate is given a fair opportunity, the Electoral Commission is represented at each District Conference by three supervisory delegates, who are required to report to the Commission their opinion of the Conference.

The preferential votes are counted and the results are declared. Then the Returning Officer certifies the number of preferential votes accorded to each candidate and forthwith sends such certificates together with the nomination papers of the candidates to the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Party. The NEC considers the nomination papers of the candidates, the certificates accorded them at the meeting of the District Conference, the minutes or record of the proceedings of such Conference and any report of the supervisory delegates. Finally the NEC nominates two candidates to contest the ejection.

After the names of the candidates are known, the Electoral Commission fixes the date of the campaign, which is conducted under the auspices of the Party. Candidates are not allowed to organise their own campaigns, nor are they allowed to spend money to win votes. The Political Committee of the District Conference arranges the programme for the campaign, which must be overseen by three Supervisory delegates. As at the District Conference, the Supervisory Delegates must see that the Election Manifesto is strictly adhered to by the candidates and that both candidates are given a fair and equal opportunity to address the electorate. They also have to report any anomalies to the District Political Committee of the Party and, if the anomalies persist, they must report immediately to the Electoral Commission, which is empowered to take any steps it deems fit to rectify the anomaly.

Voting is not compulsory. The voting procedure is as follows. Each voter has to go in person to the polling station at which he is registered. He has to Identify himself that he is the voter he claims to be by presenting his registration card. The Presiding Officer verifies the identity of the voter by checking the particulars in his register. On being satisfied about the identity of the voter the Presiding Officer presses a stamp on the back of a ballot paper and folds it, he hands it over to the voter, who proceeds alone to the screened compartment, where he casts his vole and puts the ballot paper into the ballot box. At the close of the poll the Presiding Officer, his assistant and the polling agent seal the ballot box and padlock it. It is then escorted to the Returning Officer. The Presiding Officer must also prepare a ballot paper account showing the number of ballot papers used, those unused or spoilt, and the latter are then put in different packets, sealed and presented to the Returning Officer.

The Returning Officer is responsible for the counting of votes and the safe custody of all election documents for six months, after which period they must be destroyed unless there is an order from the High Court pending an election petition.

National Members of Parliament are elected by the National Assembly itself from among candidates nominated by mass organisations and approved by the National Executive Committee of the Party. The five mass organisations are the Trade Union (JUWATA), Youth Organisation (VIJANA), Women’s Organisation (UWT), Cooperative Union (WASHIRIKA) and the Parents’ Association (TAPA). Each organisation nominates six candidates. The National Assembly elects fifteen Members out of the thirty candidates Dominated by the five mass organisations.

Women Members for the special reserved seats are also elected by the National Assembly after their names have been approved by the NEC. Prior to that all women candidates whether Members of the Women’s Organisation or not, submit their nomination forms to the UWT. In nominating them the UWT has to give equal consideration to candidates from both parts of the United Republic. The NEC will have to approve thirty candidates, fifteen from each side of the United Republic. To ensure that the Islands are represented the constitution stipulates that at least five woman members must come from Zanzibar. Women are also free to contest seats in other categories of Member, for example, as Constituency Members, National Members etc. The Parliament of 1980-85 had a total of 26 Women Members, of whom one was a Cabinet Minister, two were Ministers of State and one was a Regional Commissioner.

At the first sitting of the Assembly in a new Parliament the members elect a Speaker. He may be elected from within the House, or from without. A Speaker who is not a Member of Parliament must have the necessary qualifications to become a Member of Parliament. The present Speaker is not a Member of Parliament. The Deputy Speaker must, however, be a Member of Parliament.

The first sitting of the House after a general election is summoned by the President. Subsequent meetings are summoned by the Assembly on a date mentioned in a motion moved by a Minister and decided without amendment on the last day of the sitting of the Assembly. The National Assembly meets four times a year for about ninety days. The longest session is the budget session which meets for about fifty days. The proceedings of the Assembly are conducted in Kiswahili or English. All Members, however, use Kiswahili when debating in the House, but most of the Bills are published in English.

The National Assembly has ten standing committees as follows:
– the Steering Committee,
– the Constitutional Affairs and Legislation Committee,
– the Finance and Economic Committee;
– the Political Affairs Committee;
– the Public Accounts Committee;
– the Parastatals Organisation Committee;
– the Social Services Committee;
– the Standing Orders Committee;
– the Foreign Affairs Committee; and,
– the General Purposes Committee.

Every Bill is published in the Official Gazette in two issues at an interval of not less than seven days. The first publication of a Bill must be at least twenty one days before the Bill is introduced in the House. Very urgent Bills may be introduced without fulfilling the twenty one day rule provided they are supported by a certificate of urgency signed by the President and laid on the table by a Government Minister. After a Bill has been published and before it is debated in the House, it is referred to the appropriate Standing Committee. After the Chairman of the Standing Committee has reported to the Speaker that the Committee has concluded its consideration of a Bill referred to it, the first reading of the Bill is entered on the Order Paper on such day as the Minister in charge of the Bill may appoint. The first reading is confined to the general merits and principles of the Bill. It is at this stage that Members consider whether to support or oppose the Bill. The debate on the second reading of the Bill is confined to amendments if any. The procedure is the same for both Government and Private Members’ Bills, except that before a Private Member’s Bill is published in the Official Gazette its objects and reasons must be approved by the House itself. When a Bill has been read a second time, a printed copy is presented to the President by the Speaker for the President’s assent or other order.
Chief A.S. Mkwawa

1 Comment »

  1. Tanzanian Affairs » THE PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA said,

    March 13, 2011 at 9:25 am

    […] article will be continued in the next issue of the Bulletin. […]

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