Tensions in Zanzibar have continued despite the recent change in Chief Minister (Bulletin No. 30). They reached crisis point on May 13, 1988 when a large demonstration (mostly of young people) approached State House in Zanzibar and presidential guards opened fire. Two people were killed and several others seriously injured. Damage was done to an office building and Party vehicles.
Tanzania’s very open press has covered the story in some detail. The following items are taken from various articles in the Daily and Sunday News.
April 9. KAWAWA EXPOSES ANTI-PARTY MOVES. CCM Party Secretary General
had stated in Pemba that some individuals in the Zanzibar Government were opposing the Party. Some people had even torn up Party flags and were threatening the people.
April 11. ENEMIES NOISE WON’T AMEND CONSTITUTION. Mr. Kawawa had been asked in Zanzibar if the Constitution could be amended to allow more Zanzibaris on the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Party. Yes, he had replied, but only if it was the result of a well discussed and fully considered need. The need could not come from outside the country. Mr Kawawa complained that there had been lots of literature discrediting Tanzania’s top leaders particularly Party Chairman Nyerere.
April 15. EXPOSE AGITATORS. Zanzibar Chief Minister Dr. Omar Ali Juma had urged Zanzibaris to expose agitators so that the Government could take action against them.
Friday May 13 after prayers. The demonstration.
May 15. SEIF HAMAD, SIX OTHERS FIRED. PROBE ON ZANZIBAR STARTS. Former Chief Minister Seif Hamad the Zanzibar Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Development (who was interviewed in Bulletin No. 27), the Zanzibar Deputy Minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Affairs (both of the latter are also members of Tanzania’s NEC), the Deputy Speaker of the Zanzibar House of Representatives, a Union MP and two members of the Zanzibar House had all been sacked. This action had been taken as a result of a report submitted to the NEC by Mr. Kawawa after his April visit to Zanzibar. These people were said to have worked to destabilise the Union and the Party.
May 16. ISLES DEMO CULPRITS FACE GOVERNMENT ACTION. President Mwinyi had announced that those who had participated in the demonstration would be punished. Apparently the demonstrators had attacked remarks made by Mrs Sofia Kawawa. Chairman of the UWT (the Tanzanian Women’s organisation) in Dodoma on May 7th to the effect that it was high time Tanzania critically examined customary laws, traditions and Islamic practices which oppressed women. President Mwinyi said that Mrs Kawawa’s views had been personal and in no way reflected the position of the Party and Government. Three Muslim Sheikhs had admitted to devoting the greater pan of their sermons on the day of the demonstration to Mrs Kawawa’ s remarks.
May 18. WAKIL BLAMES EXILES FOR ILLEGAL DEMO. Zanzibar President Wakil had said that self-exiled Government critics tried to use religion in their schemes to recolonise the Isles. They had made great inroads in the Civil Service and had polarised it into opposing camps. He had directed the Security Services to crack down on unruly youths.
May 19. 29 ISLES ILLEGAL DEMONSTRATORS APPEAR IN COURT. Eight people in Pemba had also been questioned about an attempt to set fire to a Government vehicle. Zanzibaris holding anti-Government video and radio cassettes were threatened by the Government with legal action.
May 21. SIEVE CCM MEMBERS. The Zanzibar Chief Minister had called for a mechanism to review regularly CCM member’s records to ensure their loyalty to the Party.
May 23. REPS (in the Zanzibar House of Representatives) SALUTE NEC ON EXPULSIONS (from the party). We must stop the habit, one Representative had said, that the Mainland is all out to swallow Zanzibar.
May 28. TEAM TO PROBE ISLES DEMO. A seven-member Special Commission had been set up by the Government and would be under the Chairmanship of the former Chief justice of Zanzibar, Mr. Abdulwahib Masoud Borafya.
June 4. ISLES CONCERNED OVER PLOT TO BURN CLOVES.
June 15. COURT FREES 15 IN ISLES ILLEGAL DEMO. Fifteen of the 43 alleged demonstrators had been set free due to lack of evidence against them.
June 21. NO COMPROMISE WAKIL TELLS ENEMIES OF UNITY
Africa Events in its June/July issue, under the heading ‘The Twenty-Five Year Itch’ wrote that “A twenty five year itch is a nuisance some people have learnt to take with stoic dignity. A quarter of a century of life with a bone stuck in one’s craw is, however, a different kettle of fish … When Julius Nyerere cajoled Abeid Karume, Zanzibar’s first President, into signing the articles of unity in April 1964, little did he imagine that the tiny offshore islands, no bigger than the smallest county on the mainland, were to be his eternal bugbear. The demonstration ….. was yet another flare to illuminate a long-standing trend of political tension in the rather wobbly relationship between the central authorities in Dar and the people of the islands …. most of the islanders are for the Union but in their lexicon, integration (with the Mainland) is a dirty word ….. Chief Minister Dr. Omar Juma has conceded that following the recent unrest, Party membership had plumetted by 85% .. “with this loss of support for the Party and the breakdown of intelligence gathering through the ten cell leaders the chances of influencing the islanders …. seem dicey.”
Under the heading ‘Rumble on the Island’ African Concord (June 14) wrote that “The Spice Island of Zanzibar is becoming a cake too hot to be handled by Tanzania’s Union Government, the Isles Government itself and the ruling CCM Party.”
According to Africa Confidential (June 17) “Zanzibar is now presenting President Mwinyi with his most serious challenge yet – and no one in power seems to have any idea what to do about it.” – Editor