Party Chairman Julius Nyerere spent the first five days of March 1989 in Pemba, The front page headlines in the Daily/Sunday News tell their own story of what happened.
March 2: Nyerere Dismisses False Propaganda
March 3: Mwalimu Warns Agitators
March 4: Pemba Elders Want Severe Punishment For Detractors
March 5: Regional Commissioners Free To Detain Trouble Shooters
He is reported to have made the following remarks in addresses to various Party meetings in Pemba. (He was responding, among other things, to the demand by Party elders for punitive action to be taken against ‘traitors, detractors and hypocrites’ on the island).
He said that Party members should ignore false propaganda being spread by disgruntled elements against the Party and its leaders. Government organs would book opportunists disturbing political stability on the pretext of promoting democracy. “Democracy is not chaos …. Frankly, I personally don’t care what he (referring to former Zanzibar Chief Minister Seif Shariff Hamad’s reported mud-slinging campaign against the Party and its leaders) says … He can stand on top of Kilimanjaro and shout himself hoarse, but there is a limit to which the utterances will be tolerated” . Hamad and his clique, who were expelled from the Party last year, were motivated by impetuous greed for power … they had been given every opportunity to reform. Mwalimu said that Hamad had written abusive letters to him and to Party Vice Chairman Mwinyi. Mwalimu added however that the Party would protect the constitutional rights of Hamad and his group.
Later, in Zanzibar island, Mwalimu told Regional Commissioners to apply state powers, including detention, against political cheats and opportunists who were waging a smear campaign. He warned that Commissioners failing to book the culprits would be treated as accomplices using their positions to protect the detractors. The Party Chairman said that the culprits should first be warned to desist from the slander campaign, failing which they would be detained. He said the R.C’s should renew the initial 48 hour detention orders on a given culprit as often as necessary to bring him under control. Under the law R.C’s can seek presidential approval to hold culprits for longer periods.
Responding to questions in a wide ranging 40 minute interview on Television Zanzibar, Mwalimu denied accusations that he was spearheading a crusade to turn the CCM Party into a Catholic Church movement. He said it was sinful for a grown-up person to tell lies and wondered how people could speak of such serious charges when both Christianity and Islam preached against lies.
Mwalimu also denied that he had influenced the appointment of Seif Shariff Hamad as Isles Chief Minister in 1984 or that of his successor, Dr. Omar Juma. “It was President Mwinyi who picked Seif. As for Dr. Omar, I did not even know him. Why give me credit for things I did not do, Mwalimu wondered. He admitted however that, after the 1985 elections he had strongly argued for the re-appointment of Seif following the misunderstandings created by Seif and his clique aimed at stopping the election of Zanzibar President Idris Abdul Wakil. “I did this not because I feared Seif but for national unity. If this was a miscalculation on my part, I accept the responsibility” he explained.
Various organs of the press outside Tanzania have been giving their views.
Sometime before these events African Concord stated that tension in Zanzibar was under control but that security measures had had to be taken in response to rumours of impending strife. It quoted President Mwinyi as having said that “The government is not taking any risks. Every possible precautionary measure is being taken to guarantee public safety and the security of the state”.
The Financial Times in its January 17 issue stated that Zanzibar feels that it deserves a larger slice of development aid than the US$ 50 million which was allocated to island projects in 1988-89. It quoted an economist in the Zanzibar Finance Ministry as complaining that the case put to the IMF was not based on the economy of Tanzania but on that of Tanganyika. But the newspaper went on to state that Zanzibar, despite a more liberal economic policy than that of the mainland, would be hard pushed to go it alone. ‘Zanzibar currently relies on import of food, electricity and fuel from the mainland for which it pays in shillings, while it spends more than a third of its foreign exchange on rice from Thailand for the discerning local palate. Perhaps more pertinently, Zanzibar does not control its own defence. To overthrow the government would be impossible. For the opposition leaders, who drink tamarind juice beneath the Sultan’s old palace and gaze out across the sea to the mainland, this must be all too clear.’
Africa Analysis, however, in its March 17 issue stated that it considered that Mwalimu Nyerere’s recent public utterances were unlikely to dampen widespread agitation against the Party and the Tanzanian authorities.