Jan van Donge and Athumani J. Liviga writing in the April 1986 issue of the Oxford University Press publication “Parliamentary Affairs” gave some facts and figures arising from research they have been conducting into the recent history of the Tanzanian Parliament and the CCM Party. They covered the period 1965 to 1980.

For example, an analysis of the four elections for M.P.’s (1965, 1970, 1975 and 1980) revealed that 45% of all candidates stood once only and lost their election battle; 78% of the successful candidates served only one term; 41% of all M.P.’s stood for re-election but half of them lost the second time; and only 22% sat in more than one Parliament. An exceptional eight people were members of all four Parliaments.

Parliamentary elections have also proved risky for front bench members. Some Cabinet Ministers have a long record of representing their constituencies (four of the eight who won four times are long serving Ministers) but one or more Ministers lost their seats in every election. There is thus no hard core of safe seats for political heavy weights as in the British system. The grass roots exert a strong influence in Tanzania.


Number of Times Winning/Losing – Number of candidates

Win once- 190
Lose once – 267
Win once; Lose once – 53
Win once; Lose twice – 6
Win twice – 39
Win twice; Lose once – 9
Win twice; Lose twice – 2
Lose twice – 6
Win three times – 10
Win three times; Lose once – 4
Win four times – 8
Lose three times – 2

Looking at Party as distinct from Parliamentary elections the story is rather different, The 1982 elections confirmed those already in power, This was also the case in the elections for district and regional Party chairmen as well the Party National Executive Committee (NEC), The latter was dominated by professional politicians who make their living working for the Party while M.P.;s hardly played a role. Of the 130 NEC members elected only five were constituency M.P.’s but 11 had held the position in the past. Only in the elections for regional chairmen can a relationship be seen between a parliamentary career and a Party career. Almost half of the 25 regional chairmen elected in 1982 had at sometime been parliamentary candidates. Only one combined the two posts at the same time. At the district level this relationship was not evident at all. Fifteen of the 112 district Party chairmen had been parliamentary candidates; none of them was at the time in parliament and nine among them had never won.

A comparison of success in the 1980 parliamentary elections with success in the 1982 NEC elections is instructive. 25 of the 164 NEC candidates from the mainland had also stood as well in the 1980 parliamentary elections. Some of them won in both, some lost in both but ten who lost in the parliamentary elections became members of the NEC in 1982. If a politician fails in a parliamentary career that does not mean an end to a Party career.

In the case of the national M.P.’s there is a much lower rate of turnover than in the case of constituency M.P.’s. Politics loses its risky character. 25 of the 40 national M.P.’s stood for (indirect) re-election in 1980 and 19 of them won. People who lose in their constituencies sometimes try to come back as national M.P.’s. Twelve of those who contested such seats in 1980 had been directly elected M.P.’s before. This was no guarantee for success however as six of them lost in the indirect elections as well. It may be necessary, according to the authors, to be well connected at the top because the national M.P.’s tend to belong to the political establishment. Fifteen of the 40 national M.P.’s elected after the 1980 elections were Cabinet Ministers, managing directors of parastatal organisations or NEC members.

The authors of the article conclude that parliamentary elections are of an exceptional nature in the Tanzanian system. Although in general there is much security of office in Tanzania this does not apply to ordinary M.P.’s. Cabinet Ministers belong, the authors say, to the world of security. If people who belong to that world lose an election they tend to be appointed as M.P.’s and are included in the Cabinet. In every Cabinet there has been a substantial number of appointed M.P.’s. A ministerial career can be, say the authors, independent of favour with the electorate.

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