Tanzania: National Assembly seat allocation

Updated August 2020

The Parliament of Tanzania consists of the President and the National Assembly (Constitution 1977, Article 62(1)). The President and the Vice-President may not be members of the National Assembly (Constitution 1977, Article 66(2)). The Speaker of the National Assembly may be elected from within the House or from among those outside the House that are eligible for election to the National Assembly (Constitution 1977, 66.(1)(f), 84, 86(1)). The other members of the National Assembly are as described below (Constitution 1977, Article 66(1)).

Single member constituencies

Most of the members of the National Assembly are elected from single member constituencies by plurality (Constitution 1977, Articles 66(1)(a), 76-83). Of these the bulk are elected from constituencies on the Tanzanian Mainland, while 50 members are elected from constituencies in Zanzibar (NEC 2016, 18; NEC 1997, 26; NEC 2001, 32; NEC 2006, 7-6, 86-89. See also Zanzibar: Delimitation of constituencies). The number of members elected from the Mainland has fluctuated slightly from 182 in 1995 (the first multi-party election), to 181 in 2000 and back to 182 in 2005 (NEC 2001, 31, 32; NEC 2006, 7-6, 86-89). In 2015, the number of seats from mainland Tanzania was 214 (NEC 2016, 18). See also Tanzania: Delimitation of constituencies). Accordingly the total number of members elected from constituencies has fluctuated slightly from 232 in 1995, to 231 in 2000, to 232 in 2005 and 214 in 2015.

Women's seats

In the 1985 and 1990 one party National Assembly elections there were 55 seats for the representation of wider society, which included the 25 Regional Commissioners, 15 representatives of mass organisations (such as the youth, the soldiers and workers) and 15 women's representatives (IPU 1986, 133; NEC 1997, 123; Meena 2003, 2). With the advent of multi-party democracy the Constitution was amended to abolish the seats for the 25 Regional Commissioners and those of the 15 representatives of mass organisations. Instead women were allocated seats up to at least 15% of all the other seats combined, excluding presidential nominees and the Speaker if the latter was elected from outside the House (Constitution 1977, Article 66(1)(b); NEC 1997, 69). Though 15% of 238 total seats yielded 36 seats, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) allocated 37 seats for women in 1995 to political parties as nearly in proportion to the number of constituency seats that each party had won (Constitution 1977, Article 78; NEC 1997, 69-70). Prior to the 2000 elections, Article 66(1)(b) of the Constitution was amended to raise the ratio of women's seats from 15% to a minimum of 20% (and up to 30% with the permission of the President) and the NEC allocated 48 seats (20% of 237) to women, once more to parties in proportion to the seats they had each won (NEC 2001, 17, 76).

In the run up to the 2005 elections the relevant articles of the Constitution were amended once more to raise the minimum proportion of women's seats to 30% and to widen the total number of seats to include presidential nominees, so the NEC allocated 75 seats for the representation of women (Constitution 1977, Article 66(1)(b), 78; NEC 2006, 75-76). Moreover, the way in which the seats were distributed was changed to reflect the proportion of votes won in the relevant National Assembly election (and not seats as before), but to qualify a party had to obtain at least 5% of the vote in the election. This had the effect of transforming the National Assembly from a first-past-the-post based system, with additional seats for women, to a parallel system with members elected from both first-past-the-post constituencies and by proportional representation, with the proportional representation seats reserved for women.

Zanzibar House of Representatives seats

Five members are elected by the House of Representatives of Zanzibar, which has been the case since the 1980 elections that followed the adoption of the new Constitution in 1977 (Constitution 1977, Articles 66(1)(c), 79; IPU 1986, 143; NEC 1997, 123).

Presidential nominees

In 1985, 1990, prior to the introduction of multi-party elections, the President was entitled to nominate 15 people to the National Assembly, but this was reduced to up to 10 members by the 1995 elections (IPU 1986, 143; NEC 1997, 123; Constitution 1977, Article 66(1)(e)). Currently at least five of these nominees must be women.

Attorney General

The Attorney General, a presidential appointee, has been an ex officio a member of the National Assembly since the 1995 National Assembly election (Constitution 1977, Articles 59(1),(5), 66(1)(d)).



INTERPARLIAMENTARY UNION (IPU) 1985 "United Republic of Tanzania", [www] http://www.ipu.org/parline-e/reports/arc/TANZANIA_1985_E.PDF (accessed 12 Aug 2020).

MEENA, R 2003 "The Politics of Quotas in Tanzania" IN The Implementation of Quotas: African Experiences Conference, Pretoria, South Africa, 11-12 November 2003, [www] https://www.idea.int/sites/default/files/publications/implementation-of-quotas-african-experiences.pdf, (accessed 12 Aug 2020).

NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (NEC) 1997 The Report of the National Electoral Commission on the 1995 Presidential, Parliamentary and Councillors' Elections.

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

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

NATIONAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION (NEC) 2016 The Report of the National Electoral Commission on the 2015 Presidential, Parliamentary and Councillors Elections.

UNDP TANZANIA UNDATED "Representation of Women in the 2005 Elections", 1, [www] http://www.tz.undp.org/ESP/docs/Women_Contesting_in_2005_Elections.pdf (offline 12 Aug 2020).