The legislative framework governing non-governmental organizations or non - for-profit entities in Tanzania (“NGOs”), past and present, is complex and incorporates various compliance aspects. In the circumstance, it is imperative to keep abreast with the changes and/or amendments made to the legislative framework in the course of 2018 and 2019 period, for one to comprehend the space in which such entities operate in Tanzania.

The primary legislative regime governing and regulating NGOs in Tanzania is the Non-Governmental Organizations Act, Chapter 56, Revised Edition 2002 of the Laws of Tanzania (as amended from time to time) (the “NGO Act”) and the regulations made thereunder.

Prior to July, 2019, a person intending to register an NGO was able to do so under different legislative options, provided that the selected option would cater for the activities in which that person desired to pursue. These legislative options were under the, (1) the NGO Act, (2) the Companies Act, Chapter 212, Revised Edition 2002 of the Laws of Tanzania (Companies Act), (3) the Societies Act, Chapter 337, Revised Edition 2002 of the Laws of Tanzania (Societies Act) and (4) the Trustees' Incorporation Act, Chapter 318, Revised Edition 2002 of the Laws of Tanzania (Trustees Act).

Following the registration of NGOs under the above-named laws (option 2 to 4), they were subsequently required to apply to the Registrar of NGOs for a Certificate of Compliance issued under the NGO Act. This implied that an applicant had to go through a two-tier compliance process to be fully compliant with the legislative regime governing NGOs in Tanzania.

In July, 2019, the Parliament of Tanzania passed sweeping changes regarding the set up and operation of NGOs through the Written Law (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No.3) Act of 2019 (hereinafter referred to as the “2019 Amendments”). The 2019 Amendments were gazetted on June 30, 2019 and came into operation in July 1, 2019. The amendments touched on (a) the Companies Act; (b) the NGO Act; (c) the Societies Act; and (d) the Trustees Act, among others.

The 2019 Amendments significantly required NGOs and other similar/related entities which were incorporated and/or registered under different legislative regimes other than the NGO Act to relinquish their registration or incorporation status under the other legislative regimes and become fully regulated by the NGO Act alone under the NGO’s Registry Office. These sweeping amendments formally ended the two-tier compliance process of NGOs which existed prior to the 2019 Amendments.

In addition, the 2019 Amendments also introduced an expiry date for certificates of registration issued to NGOs by the Registrar of NGOs. A certificate of registration issued under is now subject to renewal after a period of ten (10) years. An application for renewal of certificate of registration shall be made six (6) months before the expiry date of its registration.

Following the above changes, additional changes were made through three (3) new regulations published by the Tanzania National NGO Coordination Board (TNNC) which is under the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children. These are:-

The Non-Governmental Organizations (Rights and Duties of Assistant Registrars) Regulations, Government Notice No. 687 of 2019 - which provides for the appointment of assistant registrars, their duties upon appointment and cession of appointment.

The Non-Governmental Organizations (Renewal and Incentives) Regulations, Government Notice No. 686 of 2019 – which caters for the modality of applications for renewal of certificates of registration, incentives for good performance and the Minister’s power to award such incentives to NGOs.

The Non-Governmental Organizations (Amendments) Regulations, Government Notice No. 685 of 2019 (“Amendment Regulations”) – which amends the Non-Governmental Organizations Regulations of 2004 (as amended in 2014 and 2018) to introduce new changes and provisions therein. These Amendment Regulations make the following key changes to the NGO statutory regime, namely:-

Issuance of new certificates. Regulation 19 of the Amendment Regulations requires NGOs with certificates of registration or certificates of compliance to reapply for new certificates. Upon the issuance of a new registration certificate the previous certificate will be cancelled.

Required formatting structure of Constitution of an NGO. Under Regulation 22, all NGOs are now required to have a particular standard constitution substantially in the format set out in the First Schedule to the Amendment Regulations. This means that, such constitution would need to be prepared and submitted as part of the issuance of a new certificate process.        

Requirement to report quarterly. NGOs are now be required to file quarterly reports to the Registrar of NGOs in Tanzania. The report will indicate the operations of the NGO including a summary of activities or projects implemented by the NGO in each quarter. The Amendment Regulations has issued specific format for this exercise.

Submission of funding contracts or agreements. Regulation 21 of the Amendment Regulations requires NGOs to submit to the Registrar of NGOs funding contracts or agreements whose value exceeds Tanzanian Shillings Twenty Million (TZS. 20,000,000/-) entered into between the NGOs and donors or persons who provide grants to the NGO for purposes of obtaining approval from the Registrar of NGOs. The submission of the contract or agreement to the Registrar of NGOs is supposed to be done within ten (10) days from the date of entering the said contract or agreement.

Introduction of the NGO E-Registration platform

Apart from the legislative changes highlighted above, on 11th May, 2020 the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children through TNNC rolled out a new digital platform for the registration of NGOs in Tanzania. Therefore, anyone who wishes to register an NGO in Tanzania has to register through the e-registration platform -

By Kelvin Mosha – Associate Kilindu Giattas & Partners

Note: This article is published for pure information purposes only and it shall in no way be deemed as professional legal advice. For any additional information or professional advice in relation to this Article or the general contents herein please contact us.