Tanzania: Party registration

Updated September 2020

The registration of political parties is particularly significant in Tanzania, because every candidate for president or the National Assembly must be nominated by a political party and therefore no independent candidates are permitted to stand (Constitution 1977, Articles 39(1)(a), 67(1)(b).

The registration of political parties is regulated by the Constitution (1977) and the Political Parties Act (1992). The administrative details are fleshed out in the Parties (Registration) Regulations 1992. The Political Parties Act (1992, 2) supplies the following definition: '"Political Party" means any organized group of people formed for the purpose of forming a government or a local Authority within the United Republic through elections, or for putting up or supporting candidates to such elections."'

Registration of political parties is undertaken by the Registrar of Political Parties, who falls under the executive (Political Parties Act 1992, 4(1)). The Registrar and Deputy Registrar are appointed by the President and assistants by the responsible minister; the Registrar must consult with the minister concerned (Political Parties Act 1992, 4-5). The current Registrar is Judge (rtd) Francis Mutungi.

Registration terms and process

It is prohibited by the Constitution (1977, Article 20(2)) for any political organisation to be registered that:

(a) aims at promoting or furthering the interests of:
     (i)   any religious faith or group;
     (ii)  any tribal group, place of origin, race or gender;
     (iii) only a particular area within any part of the United Republic;
(b) advocates for the break-up of the United Republic;
(c) accepts or advocates for the use of force or violent confrontation as means of attaining its
     political goals;
(d) advocates or intends to carry on its political activities in only one part of the United Republic;
(e) does not permit periodic and democratic election of its leaders.

To give effect to these provisions, the Political Parties Act (1992, 8) lays down a two stage registration process whereby a party applies for registration and is given provisional registration, if it qualifies, followed by a later full registration.

Provisional registration

A party qualifies for full registration if, in addition to meeting the terms prescribed by the Constitution, as set out above (Political Parties Act 1992, 9):

  • The founding members have applied in the prescribed manner.
  • A copy of its constitution has been included.
  • Its membership is open to all Tanzanians without discrimination.

If a party meets these conditions it is issued with a certificate of provisional registration (Political Parties Act 1992, 8(2)). Provisional registration is valid for 180, during which parties may apply for full registration (Political Parties Act 1992, 8(3)-(4)).

Parties with provisional registration are entitled to hold public political meetings to publicise the party and recruit members and to the assistance of the security forces in ensuring that these gatherings are peaceful and orderly, providing that the officer in charge of the area where a meeting is to be held is informed. Provisionally registered parties are not permitted to put up candidates for election or to campaign for the candidates of other parties (Political Parties Act 1992, 11(1)).

Full registration

In order to qualify for full registration, a party must be provisionally registered and (Political Parties Act 1992, 10):

  • Must obtain signatures from at least 200 members who are qualified to register as voters from 10 of the 26 regions of the United Republic. At least two of these regions must be from the five Zanzibar archipelago regions including one of Unguja's three regions and one of Pemba's two regions.
  • Must provide a list of its leaders, which must include members from both the mainland and from Zanzibar.
  • Must submit the address of its head office and its postal address.

Parties that are fully registered are issued certificates of registration and they are entitled to nominate candidates for public office and to campaign for the candidates of other parties (Political Parties Act 1992, 8(5), 11(3)).

Cancellation of registration

The Registrar may cancel the registration of a party if the party is in contravention of the Political Parties Act or if or otherwise ceases to qualify as a political party (Political Parties Act 1992, 19(1)).

Before the registration of a party is cancelled the Registrar must inform the party concerned in writing of the reasons for the intended cancellation and prescribe a period for the party to respond to the notice (Political Parties Act 1992, 19(2)(a)). If the party does not respond within the laid down period, or the Registrar decides to proceed with the cancellation after receiving the response, he must submit the decision with the response, if any, to the responsible minister; if the minister agrees, then the registration may be cancelled (Political Parties Act 1992, 19(2)(b),(c)).

Appeals

All decisions made by the Registrar on registrations and cancellation of registrations are final and cannot be appealed against in a court of law, but may however, be subjected to judicial review (Political Parties Act 1992, 20).

Official website

Office of the Registrar of Political Parties: [www] https://www.orpp.go.tz/uploads/publications/sw1565156103-Sheria%20ya%20Vyama%20vya%20Siasa%20Sura%20ya%20258%20[R.E%202019].pdf (accessed 5 September 2010).

References

CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA 1977 (CAP 2).

POLITICAL PARTIES ACT 1992 (Cap 258) .