aims for 100 female MPs by 2005
By Faustine Rwambali
May 18, 2004
TANZANIA will in 2005 introduce a system of proportional
representation that will see the proportion of women Members
of Parliament rise to 30 per cent or more, while the total
number of MPs will grow to 350.
The current 295-member parliament has 63 women, 12 of whom
are Constituent MPs. Special seats are divided among the
ruling Chama Cha Mapindizu with 41, the Civic United Front (CUF)
with four while Chadema, TLP, UDP and the Zanzibar House of
Representatives have one each.
In addition to this, there are two women MPs who are
appointees of the president. Constitutionally, the president
can appoint up to 10 MPs from among Tanzania citizens.
The decision to introduce proportional representation in
the Tanzania parliament with effect from the next general
elections scheduled for October 2005 is in line with a
commitment by Commonwealth and Southern African Development
Community heads of state to have women constitute at least 30
per cent of constituent and nominated MPs in their legislative
bodies by 2005.
But the decision has been criticised by CUF, which says the
opposition was not involved. "As of now we do not have
even the draft of the proposed changes, and they did not take
into consideration the recommendations made by the
opposition," CUF national chairman, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba
But the Speaker of the National Assembly, Pius Msekwa,
said: "Changes in the running of the government are made
by those in power; the opposition should know this fact."
In a written statement to The EastAfrican last week,
Mr Msekwa, who chaired a committee mandated to study and make
recommendations on the proposed new system, said Tanzania is
keen to involve women in politics and must implement the
Commonwealth and SADC commitments.
Msekwa said another reason for the changes in the electoral
system was the government's acceptance of the National
Electoral Commission of Tanzania (NEC) recommendation that, in
addition to the directly elected Members of Parliament and the
special seats reserved for women, there should be another
category of members who will enter parliament through a system
of proportional representation. The NEC made the
recommendation in its report on the first multiparty general
election held in October 1995.
The mechanism for the attainment of these objectives has
been approved and the composition of parliament would be 350
MPs. The present categories of MPs will be retained.
This means 231 constituent MPs will be elected directly by
voters, five will be elected by the Zanzibar House of
Representatives, 10 nominated by the President of the United
Republic, and the Attorney General, who will be an ex-officio
MP, adding up to a total of 247.
Mr Msekwa said that under such an arrangement, 103 seats
would be filled through the proportional representation method
’Äì equivalent to 41.7 per cent of the mentioned categories of
MPs who total 247.
"But in order to ensure that the minimum 30 per cent
requirement for women MPs is achieved, 75 of the 103 seats
will be reserved for women candidates only," Mr Msekwa
The method for allocating the 103 proportional
representation seats to the various political parties will
entail each participating party preparing its list of up to 75
women candidates. The lists will then be submitted to the
Electoral Commission before the specified election-day.
When the ballots in the parliamentary elections have been
counted and totals obtained by each political party
countrywide have been verified, the NEC will allocate the 103
seats in proportion to the total number of valid votes
obtained by each political party, with a proviso that any
party that fails to secure at least five per cent of the
number of valid votes will not be allocated any such seats.
He added that considering that many other women MPs would
be elected in the constituencies and yet others would be among
the 10 MPs nominated by the president, and among the five MPs
elected by the Zanzibar House of Representatives, the SADC and
Commonwealth objectives would be definitely achieved.
According to Mr Msekwa, the recommended system is being
practiced in the legislatures of Scotland and Wales in the
United Kingdom and also that of Lesotho in Southern Africa.
"In all these jurisdictions, the system has proved to
be very beneficial both in terms of relating more meaningfully
the total number of valid votes obtained by a political party
countrywide to the number of parliamentary seats obtained by
that party, and in terms of increasing the number of women
representatives in parliament," he said. With these
changes, Tanzania will follow South Africa, Swaziland,
Seychelles and Mozambique in achieving the SADC goal. The
three countries rank among the world's top 10 with respect to
womens' representation in parliament.
However, the percentage of women in politics still remains
low among SADC countries. By 2000, womens' involvement in
politics among SADC countries was: South Africa (29.8 per
cent), Mozambique (28.4per cent), Seychelles (24 per cent),
Swaziland (7.5 per cent), Mauritius (7.6 per cent), Malawi
(8.5 per cent), Botswana (9 per cent) and Tanzania (15 per
cent). In 2000, the average percentage of women in parliament
for the SADC region was 17.9 per cent, higher than the African
average of 11 per cent.
Kenya has 18 women MPs, nine of whom are elected, while
Uganda has 71 women legislators in its 293-member house, 53 of
whom are nominated to represent each district. Women in Rwanda
’Äì where thanks to a new constitution, 24 out of 80 seats in
the lower house of parliament and six out of 20 in the upper
house are reserved for women ’Äì now top the world rankings of
women in national parliaments, with 49 per cent of
representation compared with a world average of 15.1 per cent.