Tanzania: Voter registration

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, 524-526.

According to Article 5 (3) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977, the NEC is responsible for the creation and maintenance of a permanent national voters' register (PNVR). This amendment was added to the electoral legislation governing elections prior to the 2000 elections in Tanzania. Aspects of the legislation that pertain to the procedures establishing the PNVR were amended between the 2000 and 2005 elections, based in part on the recommendations of the NEC itself. Due to resource constraints prior to the 2000 elections, the NEC was not able to produce a PNVR in time for the elections, and subsequently prepared the PNVR ahead of the 2005 elections. The legislation also spells out the processes for the verification and quality assurance of the PNVR through public examination, as well as the issuance of a voter's card to all registered voters, issued for the first time in 2005 in place of a registration certificate.

Although the NEC faced major human, time and resource constraints prior to the 2000 elections, prior to the 2005 elections it was able to develop the PNVR through the process of voter registration during the 2005 voter registration period, which took place from 7 October 2004 to 10 May 2005 (NEC 2005, 8). The commission experienced some difficulties in finalising the PNVR due to alterations made to some local councils after the beginning of the voter registration period. However, a provisional voters' register was displayed at registration centres throughout the Union (including Zanzibar, where the NEC is responsible for elections for the Union president and National Assembly), and corrections and objections were evaluated on merit, and where necessary the register was adjusted.

The NEC conducted the national registration process in 2005 by dividing the country into zones, and then running registration centres within each zone on a 21-day rotating basis (see Voter registration table by administrative zone for details). All registration officers were provided with training by the NEC, and were generally competent in conducting their duties. Regionally, the registration process was also assisted by regional election coordinators, who provided the link between the NEC and the registration officers (NEC 2005, 30). The NEC also coordinated its efforts with the Tanzanian Immigration Department, political parties, religious leaders and community leaders in order to ensure that stakeholders in the registration process were satisfied with the NEC's conduct during the registration process.

The PNVR process did run into some problems, in particular in regions where a higher than anticipated number of registrants meant that some of the necessary materials and forms ran out, forcing the temporary closure of some registration centres. Elsewhere, a shortage of cameras, rechargeable batteries and voter's cards caused delays. However, the majority of these issues were resolved after some delay, and in some instances, the NEC extended the 21-day registration period to make allowances for these temporary set-backs (EISA 2007, 13).

2005 National observer report

Tanzania Election Monitoring Committee 2005 The Registration of Voters in Tanzania, February, [www] http://www.tz.undp.org/ESP/docs/Observer_Reports/2005/TEMCO_VoterRegistration_Report_2005.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 2 Aug 2010).


See Zanzibar: Voter registration.


EISA 2007 Electoral Observer Mission Report [PDF document].
Observer Mission launch statement

THE NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (NEC) 2005 The Report of the National Electoral Commission on the 2005 Presidential, Parliamentary and Councillors Elections, The United Republic of Tanzania.