Tanzania is a unitary presidential democratic republic, with legislative power vested in both its government and its unicameral National Assembly. The Assembly has up to 357 members, 239 of which are elected by popular vote, 102 are women appointed by the president, 5 are members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives, 1 is filled by the Attorney General and up to 10 additional members may be appointed by the president. All members serve five-year terms. Additionally, Zanzibar’s House of Representatives, composed of 50 popularly elected members who serve 5-year terms, has exclusive jurisdiction over Zanzibar. The last election was in October 2015 and the next is expected for 2020.
There are two types of Bills: Government Bills and Private Members’ Bills. Government Bills are introduced by a Minister or Attorney-General. Private Members’ Bills are introduced by an MP who is not a minister or Attorney-general (a private member of the National Assembly). Before a Government Bill is introduced, it passes through a process of consultation and decision-making at the Ministerial level, Permanent Secretaries level, and finally the cabinet.
Bills are published in at least two issues of the official government gazette before being read to the Assembly. For Government Bills, this process can be foregone if a certificate authorised by the President is laid on the table of the Assembly by a Minister or the Attorney-General stating that the relevant bill is so unusually urgent that time does not permit for compliance with the prescribed procedure.
Upon the first reading of each bill, it is referred to the appropriate Standing Committee for consideration. Committees have no power to amend bills, but may request that the Minister responsible for the bill introduces amendments in the Assembly. When the Committee has concluded its considerations, the draft text is subjected to a general debate by members. When approved by the majority of MPs, the bill is submitted to the President for his assent, and upon gaining it, becomes an Act of Parliament. If the President withholds his assent, he must return the bill to the Assembly, stating his reasons. In order for it to be re-submitted to the President, it must be supported by the votes of at least two-thirds of the Members of the Assembly within six months. The President is required to approve the Bill within 21 days, or dissolve Parliament and call for a new general election.