Tanzania Election Support 2019/2020

Since the contested 2015 Presidential elections, civic space and democratic values have been on the decline in Tanzania. The 2019 local and 2020 national elections will therefore be a crucial moment for Tanzania’s democratic trajectory, which Switzerland has supported for many years. This single phase project supports a coalition of Tanzanian Civil Society Organizations to conduct long- and short term election observation; as well as a targeted intervention in Zanzibar to promote peaceful dialogue, especially for youth.

Country/region Topic Period Budget

Democratic participation and civil society
Legal and judicial development
01.05.2019 - 30.06.2021
CHF  1’100’000

Tanzania has consistently held general elections every five years since the first multipartyelections in 1995. However, the legal and constitutional framework remains largely that of a one party state characterized by a strong presidency and intertwined relations between the ruling party and the state. Since the contested 2015 Presidential elections, the ruling party has used its many formal and informal power channels to limit the space for opposition, civil society and media to hold the government to account. It has also enacted a number of laws – most notably amendments to the Political Parties Act in January 2019 – that give it sweeping powers to control internal governance of opposition parties, including who they nominate as candidates for President.

Women represent a negligible share of the leadership in all major parties making it difficult to compete equally with their male counterparts in nomination for various competitive positions. No party in Tanzania has so far undertaken affirmative action to deliberately include women in the party leadership.

Against this backdrop, the 2019 local and 2020 national elections will not be free nor fair. At the same time, over 5 million youth will vote for the first time, many of which disgruntled with the lack of economic perspectives in the country and overall less supportive of the ruling class. Therefore, despite its many flaws and expected systemic manipulation, the electoral process might still provide an important mechanism to voice concerns and grievances.

Objectives Enable civil society and citizens, in particular youth and women, to actively participate in the 2019 local government and 2020 national election process in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.
Target groups The Tanzanian electorate, with a particular focus on the over 5 million first time voters. Specific interventions are targeting women and youth; as well as religious and community leaders, as well as journalists, in Zanzibar.
Medium-term outcomes

Outcome 1: Improved transparency of the 2019 and 2020 electoral processes through independent, domestic, long-term monitoring and observation

Outcome 2 Inclusive public space to discuss contested political issues in Zanzibar is provided and used by influential community leaders, youth and journalists.

Outcome 3 Participation of youth and women in the electoral process is promoted.


Expected results:  

Independent, local election observers from Civil Society are monitoring that elections are carried out according to domestic laws and international democratic principles and election observation results are collected and disseminated professionally.

Increased monitoring of citizens’ participation in electoral process.

A core group of community figures are trained and supported to implement a multi-stakeholder dialogue process involving Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), Chadema and Civic United Front (CUF) and other groups to promote an inclusive public space.

Results from previous phases:  

During the previous election cycle, SDC co-supported the Democratic Empowerment Project (DEP) implemented by UNDP, a 22 million USD, four year activity working with an array of actors inside and outside the Government. No such project will be implemented this election cycle, as to date the Government of Tanzania (GoT) has not asked the UN to carry out its electoral assessment, a pre-condition for any UN programming. An evaluation of DEP finalized in December 2016 highlighted a number of key lessons learned, some of which are applicable to the design of the present project, namely: start early enough in the process so that it can support needed reforms;  strengthening the political analysis; and developing an early warning system for electoral integrity issues and conflict. Other lessons, including increased strengthening of the legal and institutional framework for elections, including the Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs), are currently not possible given the context.

In Zanzibar, SDC has previously supported the Cordoba Foundation of Geneva (CFG) to conduct an assessment of the role of religious and community leaders in maintaining peace and providing dialogue spaces which has informed the design of the Outcome 2 of this proposal.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
Private sector
  • Foreign private sector South/East
  • Tanzania Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC); Cordoba Foundation of Geneva (CFG).

Coordination with other projects and actors SDC Partner Foundation for Civil Society has proposed an election program focusing on youth, entitled Uraia Wetu. Other SDC partners (BBC Media Action, UNESCO, Twaweza) also carry out election specific programming during the election cycle.
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    1’100’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    885’804