Tanzania - Politics, government, and taxation
The legislative branch of the Tanzanian government consists of a unicameral National Assembly elected by popular vote. There is also a House of Representatives in Zanzibar, which makes laws specifically for the semi-autonomous island. The executive branch of the government consists of a president, who is both chief of state and head of government, and a cabinet, whose members are appointed by the president from among representatives in the National Assembly. Zanzibar elects a president who is head of government for matters internal to the island. The legal system is based on English common law, while the judicial branch of the government comprises a Court of Appeal, and a High Court, whose judges are appointed by the president. The army is considered more or less apolitical (not involved in politics), and the country has never experienced a coup d'etat (political overthrow).
Throughout most of Tanzania's post-independence history, the country has been a one-party democracy, dominated by the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, or the "Revolutionary Party"). The CCM emerged in 1977, following the consolidation of TANU and the Afro-Shirazi Party, the ruling party in Zanzibar. Prior to the merger, candidates of the respective parties possessed the sole right to compete for electoral office. Similarly, until 1992, when the state decided to introduce a multi-party system, all persons wishing to hold electoral office had to be members of the CCM party.
In 1973, the TANU government announced its decision to relocate the capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma—an urban bastion of TANU/CCM support. The official reason given to explain the move related to Dodoma's central geographical position in the country and thus its symbolic national importance. The move did not take effect until 1996, however, when an appropriate building to house the National Assembly was finally constructed.
Under the leadership of Nyerere, the ideology of TANU and its CCM postdecessor was a particular variant (version) of African socialism called Ujamaa, which emphasized the central role of the extended family. According to Nyerere, prior to the colonial period in Africa, African communities based on networks of extended families were relatively egalitarian and free of exploitative relationships. Although Nyerere's argument may have actually been a romanticization of the past, it nonetheless served to inform the Ujamaa vision of a return to the communal egalitarian ethos of the past within a context of a partially modern (industrial) socialist society.
The first general multi-party elections in Tanzania were held in October-November 1995. The CCM candidate, Benjamin W. Mkapa, won the presidential election, while the CCM party gained a majority of seats in the parliamentary elections. Mkapa, reelected for a second term in 2000, has more or less abandoned the old socialist ideology of the party, promoting, rather, a free market economy in line with the structural reforms supported by the World Bank and the IMF. With 244 seats in the National Assembly out of a total of 269, the CCM continues to dominate Tanzanian politics. The 2 major opposition parties, the Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) and the Civic United Front (CUF), respectively have 4 and 15 seats. While the former is more or less a centrist party that advocates constitutional democratic reform, the latter is a regionalist party from Zanzibar.
Though many observers, such as the U.S. State Department, have declared Tanzania an island of political stability in East Africa, the reelection of the CCM in the House of Representatives in Zanzibar has engendered considerable political violence. The CCM's victory in the 2000 elections was marred (tainted) by electoral irregularities that led to the re-running of polls in 16 constituencies. International observers condemned the format of the ballots that were used and the CUF denounced the elections as illegitimate. Since the elections took place, clashes between police and CUF supporters have occurred in Zanzibar and Pemba, leaving at least 30 people dead.
In terms of government revenue, import duties are the major source of government income, accounting for 31.7 percent of total revenue in the 1996 fiscal year . Consumption taxes are the second most important, while income taxes are the third, accounting, respectively, for 26.8 percent and 24.3 percent of total revenue during the same period.
There are a total of 12 income tax brackets, leading to a steeply progressive taxation system in which those that earn low incomes pay a lower percentage of income tax than those that earn higher incomes. For example, the lowest tax bracket, which consists of people that earn less than 20,000 shillings per month, are exempted from taxation because their incomes are considered too low, whereas the highest tax bracket, comprised of individuals who earn more than 700,000 shillings per month, pay 35 percent of their income to taxes. At the same time, however, the high sales taxes and excise taxes levied on goods and services, which form part of consumption taxes, strongly affect the poor. Excisable goods, for instance, such as alcoholic beverages and petroleum products, are subjected to excise tax rates as high as 30 percent.