Category Archives: Zanzibar


SP in disputed areas and other territories (15) – Zanzibar

This is an updated version of a previous post.

This is a series of posts on semi-presidentialism in areas other than internationally recognised states. The focus is on areas with, or that have had, full constitutions, but ones that are not recognised as independent states. They may be territories that have declared independence but whose status has not been internationally recognised, or they may simply be self-governing units within or under the protection of another state.

Zanzibar is part of the United Republic of Tanzania. Art. 103 of the 1977 Tanzanian Constitution (2005) states that Zanzibar shall have a president, that there shall be a Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, and that it shall have a House of Representatives. The relations between these institutions are regulated by the 1984 Constitution of Zanzibar. The Zanzibar constitution, as amended up to 2002, is available here.

Art. 26 establishes the President of Zanzibar as the head of government and the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council. In addition, Art. 39 establishes a Chief Minister, who is the “principal adviser” of the president and who has “authority over the control, supervision and execution of the day-today-function and affairs of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar”. So, the Chief Minister is the equivalent of the Prime Minister. Art. 41 provides for the individual responsibility of the Chief Minister. So, on the basis of the definition used in this blog, Zanzibar would not be semi-presidential. However, Art. 42 establishes the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar so-called the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, which includes a Revolutionary Council (and which can be taken as the equivalent of the Cabinet). The Revolutionary Council comprises the President of Zanzibar, the Chief Minister and Ministers. This article then states that the Revolutionary Council is collectively responsible to the House of Representatives. There are no details about the procedures for holding the Revolutionary Council responsible and no confirmation that the loss of responsibility requires resignation, but this can reasonably be assumed.

So, is Zanzibar semi-presidential according to this constitution? There is probably enough for it to be classed as such. There is a directly elected president, a prime minister, and explicit mention of cabinet responsibility. The wording of the constitution is somewhat more ambiguous that other texts and the procedures for responsibility are unspecified. However, overall, Zanzibar can be considered semi-presidential on the basis of the this constitution.

As reported in a previous post, there was a significant constitutional amendment earlier this year. I do not have the text of this amendment. (The result of the referendum on the reform is available here.) However, EISA are reporting that the position of Chief Minister has been abolished and that two vice-presidencies have been created. Ministries are now shared proportionally between the two main parties in the system. Given this reform seems to have abolished the Chief Minister (or prime minister), then Zanzibar would no longer appear to be semi-presidential. Tanzania remains so, of course.

The results of the 2010 presidential election in Zanzibar are available here. Constituency results for the parliamentary election that was held at the same time are available here.

Tanzania – Zanzibar presidential election

A presidential election was held in Zanzibar on Sunday. The result was very tight.

Daily News reports that the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) candidate, Ali Mohamed Shein, won 50.1 per cent of the vote, while the Civic United Front (CUF) candidate, Seif Sharif Hamad, won 49.1 per cent. The Daily News is also reporting that President Shein has already been sworn in.

Following the referendum in August, the CCM will share power in the government with the CUF. Indeed, Daily News is reporting that Mr Hamad has been sworn is as Vice-President.

Presidential and legislative elections were also held in Tanzania but the counting is not yet finished. A post will follow.

Tanzania – Zanzibar referendum

On Saturday a referendum was held in Zanzibar. It was called following an agreement between the two main parties on the island, the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), which also rules on the mainland, and the Civic United Front (CUF).

The question posed was whether or not the 1984 Zanzibar constitution should be reformed to allow for a power-sharing government after the presidential and legislative elections that are scheduled for 31 October. The plan is for the party that wins the presidency to take the Second Vice-President portfolio, but for the losers to take the First Vice-President post. The post of Chief Minister (prime minister) will be abolished. Ministries will be distributed proportional to the seats won in the House of Representatives.

The text of the 1984 constitution as amended up to 2001 is available here. I do not have the text of the reform.

The agreement was reached after two very divisive elections in 2000 and 2005. There is a report on the 2005 election here.

Anyway, the proposal was passed. The Zanzibar Electoral Commission reports that 186,669 people voted ‘yes’ and 95,324 voters voted ‘no’. This is a 66.2% vote in favour.