Proper election coordination is a major factor in successful elections in a multiparty democracy. The findings and key message coming out of a short policy study and governance practice note by GEPC suggests that there is no universal approach to coordination between Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) and Office of Registrar of Political Parties (ORPPs). Each country has developed some sort of coordination based on its existing political and legal dispensation.
This short policy study and governance practice note sought to undertake a comparative study of Tanzania and South Africa, Nigeria with a view of contributing towards electoral reforms and minimizing of electoral disputes.
However when ranked on the common standards and guidelines for electoral management and regulation of political parties, Tanzania scores unfavorably on a number of major aspects; Finality of decisions of its EMB (the National Electoral Commission) and Office of Registrar of Political parties, whereby there decisions are final and cannot be challenged in court,
The appointment of Tanzania’s National Electoral Commission (NEC’s) commissioners is not subject to a parliamentary vetting process, NEC’s mandate is limited to Presidential elections and local elections organised and supervised by local government executives under the Minister responsible for local government. The EMB and Officer of Registrar of political parties’ report to the responsible Minister compared to its comparative Countries such as South Africa and Nigeria where these institutions are answerable to parliament.
Tanzania only ranks in equal measure with its comparative peers EMB and Office of the registrar of its political parties in the as Constitutional bodies and its organs headed by persons of high integrity at a level of a judge or retired judge.
The study therefore recommends that as Tanzania prepares for the next local and general elections, the country should practical measures to
- Review of current election coordination mechanisms with view of minimizing overlaps and election disputes
- Implement Court decisions current and previous in regards to election related matters such as independent candidates and role of local government executives in election management
- Increase avenues for transparent and objective dispute resolution. These should be documented and formalised in law
- Adopt and adapt best practices from the comparative countries on matters related to election management and coordination, including opportunities to legally challenge the finality of decisions by the election coordination mechanism
A table summary of salient features of EMB and ORPP structures, functioning and coordination and our ranking based on European Commission (EC) Common Standards & guidelines for Electoral Management and Political parties Regulations 
No Issue Explanation Traffic Signal 1 Constitutional protection of EMB and ORPP Strengthens independence, confidence and performance Green 2 Presidential Appointment of EMB Commissioners and ORPP heads Bad practice, Creates mistrust and may encourage patrimony Red 3 Existence of Nomination Panel or Committee for EMB Commissioners and ORPP Strengthens political and public trust in the institutions Green 4 EMB and ORPP Chaired by Judge or Justice of high court May strengthen political and public trust that the actions and decision of these institutions are just and fair, but fair outcome is not guaranteed Yellow 5 Civil Society involvement in Nomination of EMB Commissioners and ORPP heads Widens participation, increases public trust and credibility of the institutions Green 6 EMB and ORPP embed Roles within a single institution such as IEC in South Africa or INEC in Nigeria May encourage ambiguity, Best to separate but also depends on accountability structures and clarity of the roles Yellow 7 EMB and ORPP heads accountable to Minister Bad practice, may encourage direct political interference and patrimony Red 8 EMB and ORPP heads accountable to Public Service Commission May be subject to limitations of public service administrative codes of conduct and requirements Yellow 9 EMB and ORPP accountable to Parliament Increases accountability and public scrutiny Green 10 EMB and ORPP direct participation in nominations and vetting of candidates Encourages the EMB and ORPP to ensure candidate standing for election meet the eligibility criterion and legal requirements Green 11 EMB and ORPP direct engagement in development of Party and Membership list for political parties Bad practice, Infringes on right of Political parties to determine their candidates Red 12 Restriction of EMB and ORPP electoral organization and coordination mandates to Presidential and Parliamentary elections (Tanzania’s case) Bad practice , may encourage direct political influence, foments elections disputes Red 13 EMB and ORPP enforcement of Separate Codes of conduct or ethics Good to separate political issues from electoral matters Green 14 EMB and ORPP separate Management of Party subventions, Financing Largely dependent on accountability structures Yellow 15 Existence of EMB and ORPP elaborate operational procedures and independent guiding law Provides clarity in operational mandates Green 16 Existence of other constitutional institutions to support EMB and ORPP in democracy-such as in South Africa Strengthens independence, trust and performance Green 17 Decisions of EMB and ORPP Final on electoral and political matters Bad practice, May defeat justice and Fairness Red 18 Detailed regulations for EMB and ORPP dispute resolution Provides clarity in dispute resolution Green 19 Existence of formalised PPLC and other similar bodies to work with EMB and ORPP Enhances collaboration and potential dispute resolution Green 20 Existence of an Independent Electoral Court or Tribunal to adjudicate on matters relating to EMB and ORPP Strengthens performance And expedites justice Green
Comparative thematic analysis of Tanzania, Kenya, South Africca and Nigeria’s EMB and ORPP institutional setup, functions and our ranking based on European Commission (EC) Common Standard & guidelines for Electoral Management & Political Parties Regulation Standards
Issue Country Analysis Traffic sign
Tanzania EMB Constitutional body, ORPP enacted by law Green Kenya EMB Constitutional Body, ORPP enacted by Green South Africa EMB and ORPP Constitutional bodies Green Nigeria EMB and ORPP Constitutional bodies Green
Tanzania EMB and ORPP Commissioners and heads are presidential appointees, without nomination Red Kenya EMB and ORPP heads are presidential appointee , upon nomination Green South Africa EMB and ORPP Commissioners and heads are Presidential appointee, upon nomination Green Nigeria EMB and ORPP heads are Presidential appointees, upon nomination Green
Tanzania EMB and ORPP headed by a Judge or Retired justice Green Kenya EMB and ORPP headed by none Judges Red South Africa EMB and ORPP headed by a Judge Green Nigeria EMB and ORPP headed by a Judge Green
Tanzania EMB electoral mandated limited to Presidential and Parliamentary elections, Local elections organised by Minister Red Kenya EMB electoral mandate extended to organise all elections Green South Africa EMB mandated to organise all elections Green Nigeria EMB mandated to organise all elections Green
Tanzania EMB reports to the Responsible Minister Red Kenya EMB reports to Parliament Green South Africa EMB reports to Parliament Green Nigeria EMB reports to parliament Green
Tanzania EMB organise elections partially in Zanzibar. Zanzibar President and House of Representative elections organised by Zanzibar Electoral Commission Yellow Kenya EMB has nationwide jurisdictive coverage Green South Africa EMB has nationwide jurisdictive coverage Green Nigeria EMB has nationwide jurisdictive coverage Green
Tanzania EMB and ORPP decisions are final Red Kenya EMB and ORPP decisions challengeable in court Green South Africa EMB and ORPP decisions challengeable in court Green Nigeria EMB and ORPP decisions challengeable in court Green
 We developed these common standards and traffic signals based on standard democratic and accountability principles, international conventions, international benchmarks and European Commission (EC) guidelines for Political Parties Regulation.
 Ibid. The European Commission (EC) (Venice Commission) guidelines for Political Parties Regulation guideline provide an overview of issues regarding the development and adoption of legislation for political parties’ regulation in democracies.
** The full report of this study can also be downloaded from our reports and publications sections