Tanzania: Cost of elections

Extracted from: Grant Masterson 2009 "Chapter 13: Tanzania and Zanzibar" IN Denis Kadima and Susan Booysen (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy, EISA, Johannesburg, 544-545.

One of the biggest challenges facing any electoral commission is ensuring that the appropriate materials are available in all areas in sufficient quantity to ensure that no applicant or voter is prevented from voting due to a lack of materials. Additional costs of elections in Tanzania include the training and payment of electoral officials, and transportation costs during the registration and election days. The NEC does not receive an annual allocation from the government, although this was one of its recommendations after the 2005 elections.

During preparations for the 1995 elections, the NEC faced two major challenges in procuring and distributing election materials. Amendments to the constitution and the Electoral Act changed the parameters of what the NEC was expected to provide voters, and had subsequent implications for the NEC's budget and estimates, which had been completed the previous year in 1994. Furthermore, budget allocations did not take into account the devaluation of the shilling, as well as a rise in material prices, which created a deficit in the NEC's budget. The Tanzanian government was also slow in releasing funds to the NEC to begin its procurement, obligating the NEC to seek alternative and supplementary funding from the donor community. After several meetings between the NEC and the Tanzanian Treasury in March 1995, funds were released (see section on cost of elections). However, the delays in funding posed an additional challenge to the NEC in terms of procurement and distribution.

Materials procured for the 1995 NEC elections

Cost item Cost (TShs)
Voter Registration Period 1 857 213 150
Packing & Transportation of Election Materials 1 018 281 000
Polling station & Election Day 1 413 460 800
Total 4 288 954 950

Table source

NEC 1996, Annexure D.

For the 2000 elections, the NEC was better able to coordinate its fundraising efforts for the procurement of election materials, and the donors themselves were coordinated through a basket group of donors, chaired by the Danish. The NEC prepared a budget in 1998 for the elections which was partially funded by donors and partially funded from government expenditure. Tenders for materials during the 2000 elections were assessed by the Tanzanian Central Tender Board and Central Government Stores.

Materials procured for the 2000 NEC elections

Item Cost (TShs)
Printed Materials (July-Nov 1999) 11 722 083 005
Printed Civic Education Materials (Nov 1999-Jan 2000) 752 578 110
Packing & Transportation of Election Materials (Apr 2000) 1 127 400 000
Total 13 602 061 115

Table source

NEC 2001.

Ahead of the 2005 elections, the NEC undertook a similar two-phase procurement plan to the one used prior to the 2000 elections. The first phase secured supplies and materials for the voter registration process, which in this instance included for the first time digital cameras, printers and voter registration cards, in accordance with the NEC's mandate to produce a permanent national voters' register (PNVR) for the country. Some observers present during the voter registration noted that there were problems with the supply of rechargeable batteries for cameras at some registration centres, which meant that some applicants were not issued with the required voter ID card with their photo and thumbprint on the card (EISA 2006, 13). In order to reduce costs, the NEC borrowed 3,500 cameras from the Malawi and Lesotho Electoral Commissions for use during the registration (NEC 2005, 16).

The second phase of procurement of materials took place after the completion of the draft PNVR, ahead of the original October polling date. The NEC report on the 2005 elections notes that some of the materials procured during this phase did not meet the required standards of the NEC and had to be re-ordered. The report also noted that the lengthy nomination of candidates process caused some delays in the production of some of the materials. Despite these difficulties, the NEC was able to deliver the required materials to all 47,128 polling stations on the mainland and 1,610 voting stations in Zanzibar prior to the polling date. The NEC report noted that in four of these constituencies, voters were not able to cast their ballot in the National Assembly and/or local government polls due to errors on the ballots (NEC 2006, 69).


See Zanzibar: Cost of elections.


EISA 2006 Electoral Observer Mission Report [PDF document].

NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION 1997 The Report of the National Electoral Commission on the 1995 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.

NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION 2001 The Report of the National Electoral Commission on the 2000 Presidential, Parliamentary and Councilors' Elections.

NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION 2006 The Report of the National Electoral Commission on the 2005 Presidential, Parliamentary and Councilors' Elections.