The United Republic of Tanzania (URT) was born on the 26th April, 1964 when the Republic of Tanganyika and the Peoples Republic of Zanzibar united and formed a single country in the name of Tanzania.
The judicial system in Zanzibar derives from a distinct history from that of Tanzania Mainland, hence deserving a separate account. The Administration of justice in Zanzibar has a long history which goes back to the early 19th century. The first court to be introduced was the Consular Courts, and then followed by the Liwalis’ Courts, Peoples’ Courts and finally the present dual system of Subordinate Courts with the High Court of Zanzibar as the appellate court, this was introduced in 1985 by the Zanzibar Constitution of 1984 and legislations passed by the House of Representatives.
Administration of justice during this time depended heavily on the social economic and political organization of the society in Tanganyika. Two systems of administration of justice namely; The Centralized and the Non-Centralized systems could be identified at the time.
The Centralized Systems was applicable to societies with chiefs who played both roles of adjudicators and that of governors. In the Non-Centralized systems the entire community took part in the adjudication of disputes. However in both systems there were no formalization of procedure in adjudication, the customs of the respective societies prevailed in the process.
188.8.131.52: The German Colonial Period.
The Land currently covering Tanzania Main Land, was then included in what was called the German East Africa, it was subjected to the German Colonial Rule from 1886 up to the end of the First Ward War, 1918. During this Germany Colonial Rule the Administration of Justice was basically racial; there were two systems, one for Natives and another for Non-Natives. The adjudication at this time was made by the Governor and other Administrative Officers. The law applicable in matters relating to Native was actually vague.
Britain was given mandate to administer the then German East Africa (the area currently covering Tanzania Mainland inclusive) after Germany had lost the First Word War vide article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, this part of the World was renamed Tanganyika Territory following the Tanganyika Order in Council of 1920. In 1945 however, Britain opted to rule the Land as a Trust Territory, and this was so until the 9th of December, 1961 when Tanganyika Territory became independent.
As hinted herein above, Tanzania mainland attained its independence in December 9th, 1961. In 1963 the courts system was integrated and racism was eliminated in the administration of justice by the enactment of the Magistrates Courts Act of 1963. This system remained undisturbed until 1984 when the present court system was introduced through The Magistrates Court Act 1984.
However, there was significant development in 1977 when the Constitution of the URT came into force and in 1979 when the Court of Appeal of Tanzania was established. These particular developments created the High Courts of Tanzania Mainland, that of Zanzibar and the Court of Appeal, a union matter. The Principal Judge is the Head of the High Court of Tanzania (Mainland). As I said above, appeals from both the High Courts of Tanzania (Mainland) and that of Zanzibar go to the Court of Appeal of Tanzania.
The Court Of Appeal of Tanzania was established in 1979 and its jurisdiction as a union organ and a final appellate judicial body is provided for by article 117 of the URT Constitution. The court is a successor to the Court Of Appeal For Eastern Africa and the Privy Council. The court has contributed a lot in the development of the law in Tanzania since its establishment. The Chief Justice of Tanzania is the Captain of both the Court of Appeal of Tanzania as a final Appellate Court in the country and the JOT as one of the three Pillars of the State, the two others being the Executive and the Legislature.
So long as the Judiciary of Tanzania and the whole legal fraternity in the country practice the law on the basis of the Common Law tradition, they strongly believe and uphold the doctrine of Precedent which cannot be effectively applied in the absence of reliable law reporting system, hence a need to recognize a brief history of Law Reporting in this forum.
In Zanzibar the law reporting started as early as 1861 by the Zanzibar Protectorate Law Reports of 1861 whereas in Tanzania Mainland it came during the British Colonial rule in 1921 by the Tanganyika Territory Law Report 1921.