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.

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