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Laws of Tanzania – Global Legal Collection Highlights

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On April 26, 2014, Tanzania celebrated 50 years of the Tanganyika and Zanzibar union.  A former German (1880s-1918) and British (1919-1961) colony, Tanganyika (now commonly referred to as mainland Tanzania) became independent on December 9, 1961.  Zanzibar, which also saw successive colonial rulers (p. 15), including under Portugal, the Busaidy Dynasty and Britain, gained its independence on December 10, 1963.  On April 22, 1964,  Mwalimu Julius K. Nyrere, the then President of Tanganyika, and Abeid Karume, who was the President of Zanzibar at the time, met and signed the Articles of Union of between the Republic of Tanganyika and the Peoples’ Republic of Zanzibar (Articles of the Union) creating the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, a name that was soon changed to the United Republic of Tanzania.

However, the 50-year union has not been smooth sailing as a few issues surrounding it continue to stir controversy.  One such issue relates to the mechanics of treaty ratification.  The Articles of the Union, which was a treaty between two independent countries, included a provision requiring ratification (§ viii).  While the Parliament of Tanganyika ratified the  Articles of the Union by enacting the Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar Act 22 of 1964 (the UTZA) on April 25, 1964, the question of whether Zanzibar had properly ratified it remains controversial (pp. 30-33) 50 years later.

Pictures of Gazettes issued before and after Tanganyika’s incorporation into Tanzania.
Pictures of Gazettes issued before and after Tanganyika’s incorporation into Tanzania. Photo by Andrew Weber.

Other notable issues that continue to cast doubt on the viability of the union included the structure of government and the scope of the national government’s powers.  The UTZA, which clarified the terms of the Articles of the Union, included a provision that incorporated the government of Tanganyika into the national government (§ 7), thereby creating a two-tiered government: the United Republic of Tanzania government, whose legislative and executive bodies governed both matters relating to mainland Tanzania and all union matters (matters exclusively under the purview of the national government); and the Zanzibar government with its own legislative and executive structures to oversee all non-union matters in Zanzibar.  However, over the years, the national government has come to be viewed in Zanzibar as biased towards mainland Tanzania.  In addition, the list of areas considered union matters, which at the time of the union were restricted to eleven areas, have since doubled.  This is seen in Zanzibar as a power grab by the national government.

In an attempt to reduce opposition to the union, Tanzania’s Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), which was constituted in 2011 and whose term ended in March 2014, sought to address these issues.  In the second draft constitution it submitted in December 2013, the CRC proposed a three-tiered government structure with Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania having their own governments and a national government with jurisdiction limited to union matters.  This proposal enjoys majority support both in Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania.  The proposed national government would be significantly leaner because the CRC proposal seeks to reduce the list of union matters to seven core areas, a substantial reduction.  Not surprisingly, the proposal remains contentious with the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), strongly favoring the existing government structure.

The Law Library of Congress holdings on Tanzania are extensive.  These include: the United Republic of Tanzania Gazette (1964 through today); Law Reports of Tanzania (Tanzania Law Reports as of 1982) (1973-1998); Tanzania Tax Law Reports (2002-2008); the Revised Laws of Tanzania including both the 1977 and 2002 editions.  In addition, our collection includes a useful resource for tracking laws issued by the national government, Index to the Laws of Tanzania, and various secondary sources.

Tanganyika Gazettes
Some pre-1964 Tanganyika Gazettes from the Law Library’s collection. Photo by Andrew Weber.
Pre-1964 Zanzibar Gazettes in the Law Library’s collection. Photo by Andrew Weber.






In addition to the laws enacted by the national government, the Law Library holds laws enacted in Zanzibar after 1964, mainly the Zanzibar Government Official Gazette and Gazette Supplements (1964-to date) and the Laws of Zanzibar (1984-1994).

Our holdings on Tanzania also include extensive primary sources issued before the advent of the United Republic of Tanzania.  These include laws enacted in pre-1964 Zanzibar.  Sources in this category include: Official Gazette of Zanzibar (1914-1964); Zanzibar Protectorate Law Reports (1868-1959); Zanzibar Decree, Regulations and Notices (Zanzibar Legislation as of 1921) (1922-1933); and consolidated laws including issues from 1922, 1933 and 1959.  The holdings from this era also include materials issued in pre-1964 mainland Tanzania (then known as Tanganyika): Tanganyika Territory Gazette (Tanganyika Gazette as of 1952) (1919-1964); Tanganyika Territory Ordinances (1921-1951); consolidated laws including issues from 1928 and 1947; Tanganyika Territory Law Reports (1921-1947); and Tanganyika Law Reports (1921-1957).

In addition to the primary sources I highlighted above, the Law Library’s holdings on Tanzania also includes a sizable number of secondary source items.  Below are a few recent examples:

I thought it would also be useful to highlight some online sources that provide access to the current primary laws of Tanzania.  The Tanzania Parliament website makes available various resources including Acts, Bills, parliamentary debates, and resolutions.  The Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII) also provides access to selected items, including court decisions (decisions of the High Court, Court of Appeal and Labor Court) and Acts.  Moreover, there are a number of websites that  provide access to laws on specific subjects.  For instance, the Tanzania Revenue Authority website provides access to tax laws; the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) website makes available Tanzania’s laws relating to intellectual property; and the International Labour Organization (ILO) provides access to selected labor laws of the country.

With regard to Zanzibar laws, the best source I have found so far is the website of the House of Representatives of Zanzibar, which, among other things, makes accessible Acts issued since 1984.

You can search for more materials on this jurisdiction by going to the Library of Congress online catalog.  If you need reference assistance regarding any jurisdiction in the world and any legal topic, do not hesitate to contact us here.


  1. need to know number of pieces of legislation that reflects domestication of regional and international human rights in tanzania

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