Local Government Elections in Tanzania: Why NEC Should Take Over their Management

Athumani Liviga, Rasul Ahmed


Any free and fair election should be managed by an organ or Electoral Management Body (EMB) that is respected and which does not have any bias for or against those who are contesting. The EMB should be above partisan party politics. This article notes that the manner in which elections at mitaa, vitongoji and vijiji levels have been conducted in Tanzania fell short of the aforementioned attributes. The current practice is that the Minister responsible for local governments has substantial authority over the supervision and coordination of local government elections. The Minister is one of the Members of Parliament and a member of a political party participating in the elections.  This practice traverses acceptable democratic principles, which demand that the organ that manages an election should not side with any of the contestants and be above political parties. Democratic elections must be guided by the idea that the EMB has the trust and confidence of all stakeholders, and not otherwise. This was not the case in the three civic elections held in Tanzania in 1993, 1999 and 2004. The problems observed in these civic elections warrant the immediate need for reforms in managing grassroots elections. After going through the structure of local government authorities, the electoral system, and drawing on some practices of other countries in relation to the management of both general and local government elections, the article thus argues that the management of local government elections should be taken over by a reformed National Electoral Commission, whose independence will no longer be called into question.

Full Text:



Alasiri, 2004, 29th November.

Chaligha, A., 2005, “Lessons From the 2004 Grassroots Elections in Tanzania”, a Paper Prepared for the 8th East African Workshop on Democracy, July.

Chaligha, A., 2002, “Matatizo na Mafunzo Yatokanayo na Uchaguzi wa Ngazi ya Vijiji, Vitongoji na Mitaa 1999”, in J. Madumulla, ed, Uimarishaji Demokrasia na Utawala wa Kidemokrasia Tanzania (Dar es Salaam: REDET).

Hossain et al., 2003, “Decentralization and Development Cooperation: Finland’s Democracy Assistance to Nepal and Tanzania”, Institute of Development Studies: University of Helsinki, Policy Paper.

Jamhuri ya Muungno wa Tanzania, 2001, “Taarifa ya Tume ya Taifa ya Uchaguzi Kuhusu Uchaguzi wa Rais, Wabunge na Madiwani, 2000”, Tume ya Taifa ya Uchaguzi; Dar es Salaam.

Kabagire, A. L., 2000, “Uzoefu wa Mitazamo ya Wakuu katika Siasa: Sera na Mbinu za Serikali katika Zoezi la Kurekebisha Serikali za Mitaa”, in R. Mukandala and J. Madumulla, eds, Ujenzi wa Uwezo wa Kisiasa wa Mtanzania (Dar es Salaam: REDET).

Maundeni, Z., 2004, “Local Democracy in Gaborone City, Botswana”, A Report by theBotswana Association of Local Authorities, IDEA publications.

Mukandala, R. & Peter, C., 2004, “Local Government, Effectiveness and Human Rights: The Case of Bukoba Rural and Mtwara-Mikindani Districts”, International Council on Human Rights Policy Review Seminar, Geneva, June 27-28.

Ngwilizi, H., 2005, “The speech by the Minister, President’s Office, Responsible for Local Government and Regional Administration, Brigadier General (retired) Hassan Ngwilizi, MP, on Financial Expenditure Estimates for the year 2005/2006”.

Ngwilizi, H., 2004, “Seminar of NEC Members, Regional and District Chairmen And Secretaries”, Chimwaga, Dodoma, on 24 August. http://www.ccmtz.org

REDET, 1997, “The 1993 Neighbourhood and Village Council Election in Tanzania”, Dar es Salaam, REDET Publications No. 3.

Schumpeter, J. A., 1942/1976, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (London: Allen and Unwin).

Sisk, T. D., 2004, “City-Level Democracy in 21st Century Africa”, Essay in Report titled, “Democracy at the Local Level in East and Southern Africa: Profiles in Governance”, Stockholm: International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

Tume ya Taifa ya Uchaguzi, 2006, “Taarifa ya Tume ya Taifa ya Uchaguzi Kuhusu Uchaguzi wa Rais, Wabunge na Madiwani, 2005,” Dar es Salaam.

Van Donge, J.K. and Liviga, A.J., 1986, “Tanzania Political Culture and Cabinet”, Journal of Modern African Studies, 24, 4, pp. 619-639.

United Republic of Tanzania, 1995, Ministry of Justice and Constitution Affairs, “Report of short-term Consultancy of Electoral Law and Procedure of Tanzania”, Dar es Salaam.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

 [ISSN 0856-0056 (Print) & ISSN 1821-889X (Online)]