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Court disallows Application seeking to hear a case challenging the Union of Tanzania, in Zanzibar

East African Court of Justice, Arusha, 19th September, 2018: The First Instance Division of the East African Court of Justice has disallowed Application No. 7 of 2018, seeking Court to hear a matter challenging the legality of the Union of the Tanzania, in Zanzibar. The Application which was filed by 40,000 citizens of Zanzibar has as respondents the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, the Chief Secretary of the Revolutionary Council of Zanzibar and the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania.

The Court, in its ruling said that, it is neither necessary nor desirable to direct that the proceedings in Reference No. 9 of 2016 or any other proceedings attendant thereto be held in Zanzibar as sought by the Applicants. The Court further said that, it shall deliver the reasons therefore upon notice to the parties. Rule 68 of the EACJ Rules of Procedure permits the Court to deliver its decision and not the reasons thereof at the close of a hearing.

The Court further directed that, given the nature of the issues therein, that the case and any attendant Applications arising there from, be placed before the Court forthwith for its expeditious disposal.

Before the Court delivered the ruling, the Applicant’s agent prayed to Court that, it is in the interest of the Applicants to attend the proceedings of their Case since majority are residents of Zanzibar, regardless of their financial abilities. The Applicant’s agent also argued that, because the matter is a public interest matter and therefore it is in the interest of justice that it is heard in Zanzibar. 

However, the government of Tanzania represented by Counsel Mark Mulwambo, challenged the Application saying that the Applicants have no sufficient reasons for the matter to be heard in Zanzibar and asked the Court to dismiss the Application.

On 2nd November 2016, the Applicants filed the case EACJ challenging the legality, legitimacy and continued existence of the Union which created the United Republic of Tanzania, and the majority of the Applicants are residents in Zanzibar and that it may not be practical for them to attend court in the event that the matter proceed in Arusha.

The Court has discretion under Rule 116 of its Rules of Procedure to direct that all or part of the Court’s proceedings in any case be held at a place other than the Seat of the Court, should it deem such course of action desirable. 

The matter came before their Lordships of the First Instance Division Hon. Justices Monica Mugenyi, the Principal Judge, Dr Faustin Ntezilyayo, the Deputy Principal Judge, Justice Fakihi A. Jundu, Justice Dr Charles O. Nyawello and Justice Charles Nyachae.


For more information, please contact:

Yufnalis Okubo
East African Court of Justice
Arusha, Tanzania
Tel: +255 27 2162149
mail: Okubo [at] eachq.org

About the East African Court of Justice:

The East African Court of Justice (EACJ or ‘the Court’), is one of the organs of the East African Community established under Article 9 of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. Established in November 2001, the Court’s major responsibility is to ensure the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of and compliance with the EAC Treaty.

Arusha is the temporary seat of the Court until the Summit determines its permanent seat. The Court’s sub-registries are located in the respective National Courts in the Partner States.

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