Tanzania: Election staff and logistics

See also Tanzania: Cost of elections and Zanzibar: 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, 540-543.

Electoral staff

The National Electoral Commission is responsible for all Union election matters, with the direct coordination and regular monitoring and implementation carried out by the NEC's Director of Elections. For the 1995 elections, the Director of Election was Alex T Banzi, who was replaced by Rajabu R. Kiravu prior to the 2000 elections. Kiravu was retained as Director of Elections for the 2005 polls [and also for the 2010 polls] (NEC 2006, xiii).

In accordance with the Electoral Act of 1985, section 7(1), the primary agents responsible for elections are the returning officers and the assistant returning officers, who are appointed by the NEC prior to an election. The NEC is responsible for ensuring that the returning officers and assistant returning officers are sufficiently familiar with the Electoral Act, the constitution and all other pertinent rules and regulations prior to an election, and providing them with appropriate training should such be required. Returning officers and assistant returning officers are responsible for (NEC 1995, 27):

  • supervising the registration of voters in their constituency;
  • supervising the conduct of elections in their constituency; and
  • eclaring the results of the election of the member of parliament (NEC 2001, 34).

Since the 2000 elections, Directors of Councils have also been appointed by the NEC as ex-officio returning officers, unless the NEC deemed that there was sufficient reason to withhold appointing a director of a council as such (Elections Act 1985, 46(1), 48(1); Local Authorities (Elections) Act 1979).

No election officials appointed by the NEC are permitted to be members of a political party, in accordance with article 74(14) and (15) of the constitution. All election officials are required to take an oath stating as such prior to their appointment. Returning officers are assisted in the completion of their duties by a regional elections coordinator, whose function is stipulated by section 8(1) of the Election Act of 1985. Regional coordinators act as a link between the NEC and the returning officers.

Election officials and staff for 2005 elections

Official No
Regional Coordinators 23
Returning Officers 131
Assistant Returning Officers - Constituencies 1 170
Assistant Returning Officers - Wards 5 104
Total 6 428

Table sources

NEC 2006.

Polling operations logistics

According to the Elections Act of 1985, voting stations must open at 07:00 and close at 16:00 on the day of an election. With the creation of a PNVR for the 2005 elections, voters were required to ensure that they voted at the correct polling station, and were able to check their registration details outside polling centres for eight days prior to the 2005 elections. In each polling district, three polling officials are responsible for supervising and administering the elections and vote counting processes. For the 2005 elections, the average number of voters per polling station was 450. In addition to the NEC staff allocated to polling stations, including the presiding officers, at least one security guard (a policeman, prison guard or member of the Tanzania militia) was present at every polling station.

The initial voting date for the 2005 elections (30 October 2005) was in accordance with the Elections Act of 1985, which stipulates that an election date must be set not less than 60 days and not more than 90 days after the date of nomination of candidates (NEC 2006, 67). Following the death of Rajab Jumbe of Chadema, the date of the election was postponed again, first to the 18 December 2005, and then after some concerns raised about the date, to 14 December 2005. The PNVR system introduced in 2005 made a positive contribution to the credibility of elections in Tanzania, in particular due to the ability of electoral officials to immediately assess the eligibility of a voter based on facial recognition and thumbprints, which are both visible on a voter's registration card. The introduction of the PNVR also increased the transparency of the voters' roll, and will reduce future costs during voter registration periods.

For the 2005 elections, the NEC coordinated the activities of 47,128 polling stations on the mainland, and another 1,610 stations in Tanzania Zanzibar (NEC 2006, 67). Each ballot paper was distinctly coloured in order to assist the voter and electoral staff to identify which ballot belonged in which ballot box. Presidential ballots were coloured blue; parliamentary ballots were coloured black and local councillor ballots were coloured white, with ballot boxes coloured to correspond with the different ballots. In addition to electoral officials, political party agents and local monitors were present at the majority of polling stations, with international observer teams making spot inspections on stations throughout the country.

Vote counting began once the polling stations closed at 16:00 and all voters still standing in queues at 16:00 had cast their ballot. The major advantage of scheduling the polling stations' closure at 16:00 was that there were at least three hours of daylight still available after the close with which to count the ballots, which in many instances ensured that officials were able to swiftly and accurately count the ballots and transparency and openness were excellent. There were only a few instances reported of polling station staff still counting their ballots after dark.

Polling logistics in Zanzibar

Although information is not available on the exact number of polling stations which were set up for the 1995, the ZEC report notes that the average number of voters for the 1995 elections per constituency (in which there would be multiple polling stations) averaged 15,000 voters, with 300 voters per station. On that basis, there was an estimated 1,500 polling stations established for the 1995 elections. Polling stations open and close according to the Elections Act of 1984 (revised 2004), opening at 08:00 on the day of voting, and closing at 18:00 (EISA 2006, 13).

Zanzibar: Number of polling stations in elections 1995-2005

Year No
1995 1 500 (est)
2000 1 421
2005 1 560

Table sources

ZEC 1996, 7; Commonwealth Observer Group 2000, 22; Unrepresented Nations and People's Organisation 2005.


COMMONWEALTH OBSERVER GROUP 2000 The Elections in Zanzibar

EISA 2006 Electoral Observer Mission Report



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.

UNREPRESENTED NATIONS AND PEOPLES ORGANIZATION 2005 The 2005 Zanzibar Elections, [www] https://unpo.org/article/1303 (accessed 6 Nov 2020).