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The Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania under Article 74, establishes a National Election Commission. There is no specific legislation dealing with the structure and operations of the Commission. The Commission as constituted by the Constitution consists of seven members who are appointed by the President. The Commissioners enjoy security of tenure of office and can only be removed from office by the President for failure to discharge their functions either due to illness or misconduct.
The Secretary to the Commission is also appointed by the President and is its chief executive officer.
The autonomy of the Commission is expressly guaranteed in the Constitution. No court can question a decision of the Commission that was legally made. This ensures that the Commission performs its mandate without intimidation or fear of litigation.
The functions and powers of the Commission are:
The Commission does not have independence in deciding on its budgetary needs. It is funded through the executive and this negatively affects the performance of its functions, as it is not able to secure adequate funds on time.
An election in constituencies is held when the Parliament is dissolved or the seat of any Member of Parliament representing that constituency falls vacant for any reason not connected with the dissolution of Parliament. Candidates for election to a constituency are required to fulfill the following:- (a) they are proposed one each by a political party taking part in the election in that constituency; and (b) they submit their names to the NEC in accordance with the procedure laid down by a law enacted by the Parliament or procedures prescribed by the NEC in accordance with law.
The election of women Members of Parliament on special seats follows this procedure. Political parties which took part in the election proposes to NEC the names of women on the basis of the proportional representation among the parties which won in the constituencies and secured are seats in the National Assembly. If NEC is satisfied that any person so proposed has the qualifications to be Member of Parliament is then declared to be an elected Member of Parliament.
The House of Representative prescribes the procedures which it follows for the purpose of electing and proposing the names of the kind of Members of Parliament as specified by NEC to be followed by the political parties. The other categories of Members of Parliament are those nominated by the President and the Attorney General.
The NEC is an autonomous department and its chief executive is the Director of Elections.