While multi-partyism on the mainland is working well the political crisis in Zanzibar arising from widespread scepticism about the recent election results, age-old differences between communities, economic factors and personality clashes between the main protagonists grows worse. Dr. Salmin Amour was declared elected as President of Zanzibar by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission by a majority of 1,565 votes (out of a total of 328,977) but the vast majority of his votes came from the main island Unguja. His CCM party was unable to win a single parliamentary seat in the island of Pemba. Geir Sundet’s paper referred to above quotes from another detailed analysis of the election results (Republic in Transition; 1995 Elections in Tanzania and Zanzibar, International Foundation for Election Systems, 1101 15th St. NW Washington DC 20005) which states that in the controversial election in the Mlandege constituency in Unguja, international observers found that while the official result gave CCM victory by 871 votes a recount indicated a victory for CUF by 17 votes.

Mr Seif Shariff Hamad’s Civic United Front (CUF) won every seat in Pemba with ease. However, had Mr Hamad been declared elected as President, a similar crisis could have arisen given the equal support and determination to win of both sides in the contest. Mr Hamad however might have taken a less rigid stand than is now being taken by the tough President Amour. For outsiders (and large numbers of Tanzanians including Father of the Nation Julius Nyerere) the obvious solution for Zanzibar would be a government of national unity. But President Amour continues to insist, quite correctly, that in a multi-party system the one who gains the most votes wins the election and is therefore entitled to rule.

The President has made his position quite clear on several occasions. At a rally on March 17, which was organised to protest against acts of sabotage (see below), he said that the Zanzibar Government would never hold a dialogue with CUF and there was no need to form a government of national unity because CUF leaders ‘did not have good intentions’… There was no person inside or outside Tanzania who would force the Government to have dialogue. There were external forces using the opposition as camouflage to recapture Zanzibar. At another very large rally on March 26 he stated that he would not resign despite the bad press he was getting from tabloid newspapers.

Mr Seif Shariff Hamad gave his opinion in a letter to Dr. Salim Ahmed Salim, the Secretary General of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU):
‘CUF shall never accept Dr. Salmin Amour as President of Zanzibar. He was never elected. He, in cooperation with the Chairman and members of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission, imposed himself as President. We do not buy the idea that Dr. Salmin should incorporate two, three or even five CUF members as members in his own government … because this would undermine the whole democratic process ….I CUF offers two options in tackling the problem. First, the ‘Haiti option’. Dr. Amour . . . must be pushed to step down and the person undersigned who won the election should be installed as the lawful President of Zanzibar … I promise to form a government of national unity. The second option is that Dr. Amour steps down and an interim President, a person of high integrity, is appointed. The President should review the Zanzibar Constitution and the Election Act….and organise a new election within three months.. ..I – Seif Shariff Hamad. The division in voting preference between the two islands was further reinforced on March 31 when in Ward (local government) elections (with very low poll turnouts) CCM won all 17 seats in Unguja, the main island, and CUF won all six in Pemba .


Well known Zanzibar journalist Salim Said Salim, just before he was prevented by the government from continuing to operate as a journalist in Zanzibar (which aroused much criticism outside the Isles), wrote an article in the ‘Business Times’ in which he spoke of President Amour’s ‘revenge1 against Pemba where his CCM party had scored only 10% of the votes.

He noted that President Amour had appointed only one Minister from Pemba in a Cabinet of 18, one junior minister out of five from Pemba, one Pemban Principal Secretary out of 14 and one Pemban Deputy Principal Secretary out of 21. He then appointed four Regional Commissioners, all from the main island of Unguja. He had previously broken the unwritten rule that, if the President comes from Unguja the Vice-President should come from Pemba. Both now come from Unguja. Zanzibar’s House of Representatives is operating with difficulty as all the 24 CUF representatives are boycotting its proceedings.


In this situation isolated acts of violence, arson and sabotage began. Some people from Pemba resident in Unguja complained that they have been harassed and intimidated and some are said to have fled to Pemba.

In Pemba itself the Daily News has reported a number of incidents. Two petrol bombs were thrown at the Zanzibar House of Representatives Hall in Wete on January 28. A primary school was set on fire on February 1. Some 8,000 secondary and large numbers of primary school pupils are reported to have been engaged in a strike since January. Faeces are said to have been smeared on the walls of two schools to discourage any return. On February 3 a secondary school laboratory was set on fire. A CCM supporting businessman in Pemba has had his godown burnt down as a ‘punishment for backing the wrong party’. On February 29 the house of the CCM Assistant Secretary for Pemba South was set on fire. On March 3 some 400 people attacked three security officers, their vehicle was destroyed and their weapons were stolen.

More seriously, at the beginning of April, saboteurs severely damaged a marine cable bringing electricity from the mainland and the main electric plant which resulted in a four day power blackout in Zanzibar and severe water shortages. The government has reacted firmly to the unrest. It detained three opposition representatives in Zanzibar’s parliament for holding illegal meetings and inciting students to strike. They were later released following pressure from the courts.

The Government has been widely criticised for banning the Dar es Salaam newspaper ‘Majira’ from Zanzibar for articles the paper had published which were said to have ‘lowered the reputation of the Isles’ government and its leaders and exposed them to ridicule’. One man was fined when he was found with a copy.

Well-known Zanzibar journalist Salim Said Salim was banned from writing news articles while in the Isles because he was said to have been writing anti-government statements ‘aimed at disrupting peace and national unity’.

As we go to press the Daily News reported a brief police raid on the residence of Seif Shariff Hamad.


Union Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye said on February 2 that the government would not allow Zanzibar to slide into bloodshed and violent political hooliganism. He reminded the people of Zanzibar how, in Angola and Mozambique, people had refused to accept election results and then been plunged into two decades of civil war.

Zanzibar-born OAU Secretary General Salim Ahmed Salim said on January 9 that his position was being made more difficult because, as a Tanzanian, he derived his strength to negotiate other nations’ conflicts because of the peace and stability obtaining at home. “The two sides must sit down and talk to each othern1 he said.
Zanzibar Chief Minister Dr. Mohamed Bilal stated on February 1 that he had ‘irrefutable evidence8 that foreign embassies were fuelling the political crisis in the Isles.


The East African reported on April 22 that Norway had suspended aid worth $4.5 million to Zanzibar in evident disapproval of the elections and the ‘heavy-handed attitude adopted by the ruling regime since then’. The suspended aid was for the island’s electrification programme.

Canadian High Commissioner Mrs V Edelstein has expressed disappointment at the performance of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission and said that Canada remained concerned about the irregularities in the Zanzibar electoral process. “The issue should be resolved through dialogue” she said. US Ambassador to Tanzania Brady Anderson has said that claims of vote-processing irregularities were a matter of grave concern to Washington. “Very serious questions remain about the way in which the votes were counted and the results announced”.


President Mkapa must be embarrassed as he is constantly questioned about what he is going to do about Zanzibar. He invariably replies that people should accept the election result and that he has no constitutional authority to act. His predicament is exacerbated by divisions within his own CCM party. On the mainland, a group of formerly powerful CCM leaders fully support President Amour’s position. Former Prime Minister John Malecela has stated that threats by CUF to remove President Amour represent treason. Similarly, as Mzee Hashim Ismail pointed out in an interview in the Sunday News on March 3, the ‘old CCM revolutionaries’ in Zanzibar, many of whom hold no official position but do have privileges, have little liking for democracy. Other CCM members on the mainland are said to be unhappy about the whole situation.

Mzee Hashim Ismail went on to say that CUF should realise that Dr. Amour has the guns, the police and the army, even though CUF appears to have the moral support of people inside and outside the country. CUF should get into the House of Representatives and fight from within, he said, just as Mwalimu Nyerere did at the time just before independence when the British government offered him only five seats in the Tanganyika government. Nyerere fought for more and eventually got them.

As usual when there is a crisis in Tanzania people tend to look for help to Father of the Nation Julius K Nyerere. At present he is very busy mediating the conflict in Burundi, Perhaps he now needs to go to Zanzibar – DRB.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.