WHAT HAPPENED IN ZANZIBAR IN 1984?

The ‘Daily News’ in an article headed ‘Focus “84”‘ has thrown some light on what is described as a ‘serious political crisis’ which occurred at the beginning of 1984 and the efforts of the Party to resolve it. The article states that the crisis was serious –

because it both endangered the continued existence and survival of the nation as well as the threatened integrity of the political system. For underlying what came t o be described as ‘cleansing the polluted political atmosphere in Zanzibar’ were serious issues of a basic and fundamental nature with important political implications. Basic and fundamental because they were related to national integrity , particularly whether the Union should continue to exist and in the same form and manner as the people had known them since its creation on April 26th. 1964.

The relevance and significance of this development does not merely lie in the fact of its having been amicably resolved. In other words it does not simply lie in the country having successfully averted a potentially dangerous crisis. It also lies in the fact of those issues and the entire crisis being resolved by the Party. The fact of the Party rather than any other contemporary organ handling this situation is significant because it at tests and underscores its centrality and supremacy in the polity.

This point becomes particularly apparent when the following facts are taken into consideration. First, the emerging crisis was first discussed in the Central Committee of the National Executive Committee of the Party. Second, the whole is sue was brow before the National Executive Committee of the Party and subsequently discussed frankly and exhaustively in one of its most important sessions.

Third, the discussion and debate culminated in the resignation from the offices of Vice-Chairman of the Party, Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Chairman of the Revolutionary Council of Zanzibar and President of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar of Ndugu Aboud Jumbe. Fourth, it was the National Executive Committee which not only accepted his resignation, but also nominated Ndugu Ali Hassan Mwinyi as Interim Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Interim Chairman of the Revolutionary Council and Interim President of the Revolutionary Government.

Apart from demonstrating the fact of the supremacy of the Party, the additional significance of this development lies in its being the first time a leader of national importance relinquished his office voluntarily through resignation. When it is realised the person concerned held the number two office in the Union Government and the number one office in the Revolutionary Government, the significance of the change becomes apparent. Equally significant is the fact of this change having resulted in the immediate elections in Zanzibar for the offices of the Chairman of the Revolutionary Council and President of the Revolutionary Government. Although it was not the first time those offices were filled through elections, they were nevertheless the first elections to fill an office left vacant by a previous incumbent.

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