POLITICS – MKAPA, MREMA, AMOUR, HAMAD

Tanzania’s leading politicians – Union President Benjamin Mkapa, main opposition leader Augustine Mrema and the feuding leaders in Zanzibar – President Salmin Amour and opposition leader Seif Shariff Hamad have all had reasons for satisfaction and disappointment during the last few months of Tanzania’s rapidly developing multi-party democracy. On the mainland multi-partyism is working well; a by-election under way in Dar es Salaam will help to indicate how the main parties stand after almost a year of this new system of government. In Zanzibar, by contrast, it is becoming increasingly difficult for TA to present an accurate and unbiased report on what is happening because of the conflicting information received. The opposition continues to refuse all cooperation with the government elected under questionable circumstances last year and the ruling party is resorting to strong arm tactics in its determination to maintain law and order.

MKAPA

Popular President Mkapa’s dominant position was consolidated on June 20 when he was elected Chairman of his Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Party by an overwhelming 1,248 votes out of 1,259 at an emotional ceremony in Dodoma. Former President and Chairman Ali Hassan Mwinyi handed over the CCM Constitution, 1995 Election Manifesto and Chairman’s gong midst deafening chants of ‘CCM’, ‘CCM’, ‘CCM’, dancing, ululation and music by the party’s cultural troop ‘TOT’. The new Chairman said that he would maintain earlier policies of socialism and self-reliance and would continue to fight tribalism, discrimination and religious bigotry. He would cleanse the party of immoral and corrupt elements and would enhance discipline, efficiency and integrity in the government and party.

The next day President Mkapa’s position was further strengthened when the entire CCM leadership secretariat resigned so that the President could arrange for his own people to be elected by the National Executive Committee. The new party leaders are:

Vice-chairman (Mainland) John Malecela (no change)
Vice-chairman (Zanzibar) Salmin Amour (no change)
Secretary General: Phillip Mangula (previously Kagera Regional Commissioner) Deputy Secretary (Mainland): Ukiwaona Ditopile-Mzuzuri (previously Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner)
Deputy Secretary (Zanzibar) Ali Ameir (no change)
National Publicity Secretary: John Mgeja MP for Solwa.
Mr Ngombale-Mwiru (who had been Publicity Secretary) was later appointed Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office and Dr. Lawrence Gama (who had been Secretary General) became Regional Commissioner, Morogoro.

President Mkapa has continued to surprise people by the number of changes he is making in senior posts. On May 6 he announced the appointment of Mr Omari Iddi Mahita, the Arusha Regional Commissioner of Police as Inspector General even though Mr Mahita had previously been two ranks below. The President sacked five other top officers. On June 30 he appointed Mr Onel Malisa as the new Principal Commissioner of Prisons and retired in the public interest 15 police, prison and immigration officers.

CITY COUNCIL DISSOLVED

One of the reasons for President Mkapa’s popularity is the decisiveness with which his government deals with signs of bad governance. An example of this is the case of the Dar es Salaam City Council. Prime Minister Sumaye had warned the Council when he addressed them on January 4 about its low 30% collection of revenue, poor levy system, outright corruption and poor administration of the Council’s by-laws. On June 28 he announced that the Council had been dissolved and been replaced by a Commission that would run the city for one year (later changed to 10 months) while a new management structure was established.

The government’s next step was to abolish regional development directorates and replace them with small secretariats to be under the Regional Commissioners. In districts also, District Commissioners would be overall supervisors of all government functions to reduce bureaucracy. But there are still remnants of the intolerance of opposition typical of earlier Tanzanian governments. When the long established Swahili biweekly ‘Heko’ published a letter claiming that there hadn’t been a proper government in Tanzania since independence it was promptly banned.

SECURITY CHIEF KILLED

Then came what could become a setback to the government’s reputation for probity. On June 30 the former Director of Intelligence and Security, Lt. General Imran Kombe, was shot dead in his car in a hail of bullets by five police detectives and a civilian who were said to have mistaken him for a notorious car thief. The owner of a similar car had offered Shs 1.5 million reward for the arrest of the thieves and recovery of the car. But, the police account of the incident differed from that of the General’s wife who was with him and had escaped. She said that her husband had stopped the car and put his hands in the air before he was shot. People began to wonder whether this was Tanzania or Kenya and what secrets the General was holding. The police were promptly arrested and charged with murder but the press became suspicious again when they were barred from the court when the police appeared before it. On July 20, under mounting pressure from press and public the government set up a high powered judicial enquiry under Justice Damian Lubuva to report within a month. The Commission immediately appealed to Britain’s Scotland Yard for assistance but this was refused. Responding to criticism the Attorney General later assured the National Assembly that there was nothing wrong in appointing the commission while murder proceedings were going on in court. The Commission’s proceedings would be in camera.

MREMA

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the NCCR-Mageuzi Party, Augustine Mrema, has been busy setting up a strong nationwide party apparatus. Somewhat reluctantly his party has set up a system similar to the 10-cell CCM party system believing that this is the only way to counter CCM’s strong grass roots organisation. The blue flag of the NCCR can now be seen flying in villages from end to end of the country – almost as many as the green flags of the CCM. And Mrema himself has bravely taken on a major political risk by putting himself up as candidate in a by-election which few believe he can win. Mrema had earlier accused CCM of being a sick administration suffering from ‘Acquired Anti-Democracy Syndrome’ (AADS).

AN INTERROGATION IN COURT

A petition filed by two defeated candidates (from NCCR-Mageuzi and CHADEMA) in the Temeke (Dar es Salaam) parliamentary constituency occupied several weeks of High Court time. The case revealed much of what was alleged to have happened in at least one Dar es Salaam constituency during the last elections and resulted in the convening of the first byelection of the new parliament.

During the case there were allegations that the successful candidate, CCM’s Ramadhani Kihiyo, bribed voters with money and T-shirts, provided a free supply of water from a bowser two days before the second round of the elections (the first round in Dar es Salaam constituencies was cancelled because of irregularities and several opposition candidates boycotted the second round on November 19 where the turnout dropped to 39% of the 143,749 registered voters) and that a CCM councillor had threatened traders supporting the opposition that they would lose their licenses. Mr Kihiyo got 37,303 out of the 57,152 votes cast in the second round of the elections. The location of several polling stations was said to have been changed because of the high rents charged by owners of the buildings where voting took place – this was alleged to have further confused voters and there were also allegations that ballot papers were bought and sold. But the court reached a pitch of high drama when NCCR MP and lawyer Dr. Masumbuko Lamwai, tackled Kihiyo on the qualifications he had told the electorate he held (as reported in the Daily News):

Lamwai: You say you graduated from the Dar es Salaam Technical College in 1986. Is that right?.
Kihiyo: Yes, of course.
Lamwai: Do you know that man? (pointing to former Technical College Students Council Chairman)?
Kihiyo: No, I don’t know him.
Lamwai: What is a foundry?
Kihiyo: I don’t know (laughter from the packed public gallery).
Lamwai: How many sub-departments are there in the Mechanical Department of the College?
Kihiyo: An engine room, an injection pump and repair (laughter).
Lamwai: Do you have any paper indicating what marks you got?
Kihiyo: I think I have it somewhere.
Lamwai: Do you know who the Principal of the College was when you were there?
Kihiyo: I don’t know.
Lamwai: Who was the Registrar?
Kihiyo: Mr Kuhanga.
Lamwai: No. Mr Kuhanga was my Vice-Chancellor at the University of Dar es Salaam at that time.
Lamwai: When did you start your studies there?
Kihiyo: I don’t remember.

Dr. Lamwai told the court that Kihiyo had used the title engineer during the campaign in relation to his ability to solve water problems affecting the constituency. The Judge asked Kihiyo to bring his certificate to court.

Kihiyo: (Next day). Your Honour, can you please give me two more days to look for the document.
Lamwai: Do you still maintain that you graduated from the College?
Kihiyo: Yes.
Dr. Lamwai then asked about the stream he had been in, his Head of Department’s name, who had presented the certificate to him, what were the entrance requirements but in every case Kihiyo either did not know or gave the wrong answer.
Lamwai: What does VTC stand for?
Kihiyo: It is National Committee Centre (laughter).
Lamwai: I ask you to step down as MP for Temeke

On May 29, following a month in the High Court, Mr Kihiyo announced through his counsel that he had written to the House of Assembly Speaker resigning as MP for Temeke on medical grounds.

On June 26 in the National Assembly Mr Christiant Mzindakaya (CCM MP for Kwela) said that Dr. Lamwai was a ‘bad comrade’. He was bent on unseating his fellow MP’s rather than using his talents to defend them (loud laughter).

Satirist Wilson Kaigarula in the Daily News wrote about a friend of his Uncle Tamaa who had been hovering about the disbanded Dar es Salaam City Council trying to get a job as Garbage Collector-in-Chief. He swore before the God of the Vingunguti dump yard that, if offered the job, he would make the City as clean as Paris. He said that the scientific exposure he had received at the Municipal Sanitation Technical College in the Kalahari desert would ensure that he could do the job!

AN ANIMATED BY-ELECTION

The by-election in Temeke, which is under way as this issue of TA goes to press, has attracted intense interest because NCCR leader and presidential candidate last year Mr. Augustine Mrema, who was also Deputy Prime Minister in the previous government, decided to take a great risk by putting himself forward as the candidate of his party. Few observers believe he can win. He is a Chagga fighting an election a long way from his power base in Moshi and standing against a local man, Mr Abdul Cisco Ntiro who represents CCM. He is a Christian in a predominantly Muslim constituency and has had difficult relations in the past when Muslim fundamentalists started attacking pork butchers’ shops and he had to bring the full force of the law down against them. The opposition vote is badly divided with possibly 11 other candidates. One of these is the previous NCCR candidate who was so bitter at his removal as candidate that he joined CUF and now campaigns against Mrema. The date of the by-election is October 6.

OTHER PETITIONS FAIL

Another electoral petition involving 45 prosecution witnesses against the election of CCM House Speaker Pius Msekwa in Ukererewe and a petition against NCCR-Mageuzi MP for Arusha, Mr Charles Makongoro Nyerere (the son of Mwalimu Nyerere) failed in the High Court.

A hotly contested electoral petition began in Bunda, Mara Region, where NCCR MP Stephen Wassira had beaten former CCM Prime Minister by a wafer thin majority of votes; there was much debate on whether Wassira had bribed voters with offers of sugar, salt and meat. At one stage in this case Judge Kahwa Lukingira ordered the former election supervisor for the constituency to appear before the court immediately. Told by the State Attorney that the supervisor was on tour with the Regional Commissioner, the judge asked if this meant that he had disregarded the on-going court session; had he opted to loiter with the RC?; other witnesses had come from as far away as Mtwara, Dar es Salaam and Mwanza.

In Zanzibar the High Court dismissed four election petitions contesting the election of CCM MP’s in Unguja on the grounds that, under the 1990 Elections Act, membership of the Isles House of Representatives could not be challenged without the consent of the Attorney General – this had not been obtained by the CUF petitioners.

HOPE FOR ZANZIBAR SETTLEMENT?

There is no problem in Zanzibar, only a few individual trouble makers, according to Zanzibar President Dr. Salmin Amour. Many observers question this interpretation of the situation (see TA No. 54). As far as can be ascertained by trying to sift fact from rumour or propaganda it appears that positions have hardened in Zanzibar during recent months. Tanzania is blessed with a remarkably free press and the following attempt to explain what has happened recently is largely derived from items already published in Tanzania’s press.

As the ruling CCM has the support of only half the population, there is a long history of political division in the islands and the word ‘compromise’ is as popular amongst leaders in Zanzibar as it is amongst those in Northern Ireland, President Amour’s CCM government has taken to strong arm tactics to try and control the situation. The President does not conceal his determination to deal with dissidents – see below. The leader of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) Seif Shariff has reacted by stepping up his relentless local and international campaign to denigrate the President – saying that he was not properly elected – and criticising the injustices which he claims are occurring regularly in the Isles.

HUMAN RIGHTS

There is no longer very much doubt that there have been cases of infringement of the human rights of opposition supporting Zanzibar citizens, particularly those from Pemba (where people voted overwhelmingly for the opposition in the elections) but it is very difficult to get at the whole truth. Many people have been beaten up by the police; some Pemban born staff in the civil service have lost their jobs; hundreds of houses have been demolished; CUF is not allowed to hold meetings in Unguja – the latest one to be cancelled ‘for security reasons’ was on August 3.

Visitors to Zanzibar come away with mixed impressions. Tourists find Zanzibar very attractive; they meet warm and friendly people. There is an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity. Few tourists know that there might be something amiss in the islands. Many (but not all) Dar es Salaam and foreign newspapers can be bought freely. Opposition supporters seem to be free to talk to strangers. But other visitors, who perhaps dig more deeply, speak of an atmosphere of fear.

An example of an incident in which it is difficult to obtain a clear picture is the case of the Zanzibar citizens who are said to have started to destroy their own homes in the middle of the rainy season this year and made themselves homeless. According to reports, on April 14, the government issued an eviction notice to all houses within a densely populated area of Mtoni in Unguja. The occupants had to move as their houses would be destroyed within seven days. Few heeded the warning. A week later a government bulldozer and a force of fifty police began the task by force. The bulldozer started by flattening concrete block houses – these were not temporary shacks. It worked. People rapidly began destroying their own houses trying to rescue doors, windows and roofing materials. The affected area contained hundreds of houses and many thousands of people of whom a large number are alleged (by some) to be immigrants from Pemba. The evictions apparently arose from an incident at the main power station on April 1 which denied electricity to the whole of Zanzibar for four days. The eviction order was issued the day the power was restored. The government says that the power station was sabotaged by opposition party supporters. Others maintain that the explosion was an accident caused by a chronic failure to maintain the plant properly. CUF claims that the government sabotaged the installation to raise the political tension and thus show that the CUF comprises anti-democratic troublemakers. The official statement on the destruction of the houses says that the houses were dangerously situated under high voltage cables and that people had occupied the land illegally.

AMOUR

President Amour, in a ‘victory’ speech after returning from the Dodoma party conference, where the CCM had given him total support, he said (according to the Dar es Salaam Guardian) that with this reinforced support the Zanzibar government would be able to deal with all who flouted its authority. He would use all legal instruments enacted over the 30-year period of the Zanzibar revolution to achieve this. He attacked news media for portraying his image negatively. Members of the opposition had been going to Dar es Salaam to give false information – but to no avail. “The mainlanders are in agreement with their fellow Zanzibaris to defend their unity” he said. No government could be overturned by a newspaper. “Even if they insult me, shelve me or otherwise, I will remain the same President and I will pay no heed to their insults because I am President by the electorate’s mandate”. People should start to dwell on development issues instead, he said. Reacting to an appeal for him to lift the ban he had placed on the Dar es Salaam newspaper ‘Majira’ he said that if the paper would refrain from reporting ‘half-cooked and concocted stories’ on Zanzibar he would lift the ban. He would ban any newspaper, even those owned by CCM, which tampered with Zanzibar’s rule of law, he said.

The government has justified its strong-arm tactics in Zanzibar because it says that CUF has been responsible for over 40 criminal acts.

As long ago as March, President Amour had said that he would not agree to mediation with the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) which refuses to recognise Amour’s presidency and demands new elections, even if the arbiter was Father of the Nation Mwalimu Nyerere himself. When Nyerere was asked recently why he didn’t do something about the crisis in Zanzibar he replied that nobody in the Union or Zanzibar governments had asked him to do so.

Addressing 14 members of the mainland press visiting Zanzibar on May 27 Dr. Amour (as reported in the Daily News) denied that his government was abusing human rights by harassing and imprisoning people from Pemba. Zanzibar’s prisons had only 92 inmates and remandees. One of the visitors subsequently wrote an article under the heading ,Zanzibar, where fear reigns1 in the Business Times (May 31). The writer said that on one occasion, when the bus full of journalists stopped at a village in Pemba, children playing football all ran away ‘with terror on their faces1. It was explained that the children had thought that the journalists were police or government officials. According to Radio Tanzania Zanzibar, quoted in the Daily News on June 12 a Mr Hassan Khamis had been jailed in Pemba for six months for defaming President Amour. The Magistrate said that this sentence would serve as a deterrent to other people.

PRESIDENT MKAPA IN ZANZIBAR

For several months after the elections President Mkapa made no comment on the situation in Zanzibar other than that he had no constitutional power to intervene. However, during a visit to Zanzibar starting on April 21 he made what the East African referred to in a leading article as a ‘wrong move1. It wrote: ‘Finally President Mkapa has spoken (about Zanzibar) but many Tanzanians wish that he hadn’t1. His words were unexpectedly harsh. Ruling out cooperation with the CUF he had accused it of using democracy to disrupt peace; rather than restrain Amour he would prefer to control the CUF; as for donor’s protests, most of them knew the opposition was causing civil disobedience and sabotage and their statements were ‘geared towards drawing the country into civil war’. President Mkapa had clearly thrown his weight behind force rather than diplomacy the article concluded.

Some observers noted however that, under a recent amendment to the constitution, President Amour is a member of the Union cabinet and, in that sense, President Mkapa has to live with him. Another newspaper noted that President Mkapa was, at the time, facing an election for the Chairmanship of the CCM party and needed Zanzibar CCM votes if his mandate as President of the United Republic was to be convincing.

COMMONWEALTH SECRETARY GENERAL ARRIVES

Into the midst of this unpromising situation Commonwealth Secretary General Chief Emeka Anyaoku decided to try his hand. After very extensive discussions indeed in the first week of August (he met all the key people in Zanzibar and on the mainland; he had seven meetings with CUF) the Daily News quoted him in an article under the heading ‘Club Chief sees end to Isles Stalemate’ as saying that he was ‘positive that the wrangling political parties would find a common stand and bring an end to the political stalemate on the islands’. Both leaders were said to have made him believe that a new chapter of cooperation would soon be opened.

CUF Secretary General Shabaan Mloo said that CUF had been deeply moved by Chief Anyaoku’s admission that there was political tension in the Isles. The Chief had said that he was concerned about the situation because it implied that multiparty democracy was not normal in Zanzibar. CUF was ready to meet the CCM for unconditional talks. Because the first step had been reached by establishing that there was a problem in Zanzibar, CUF believed that efforts by the Commonwealth might succeed in tackling the problem. He was under the impression that there might be a follow up mission by Commonwealth officials. As we went to press, however Dr. Amour had made no comment. It is understood that the Commonwealth Secretary General made certain proposals and that these were being considered in Zanzibar. In his departure statement Chief Anyaoku said that he was very hopeful that a new page of cooperation in the politics of Zanzibar would soon be opened. ‘Tanzanophiles’ will add their hopes to his.

DONOR ATTITUDES

Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete, on return from a nine nation tour of Europe on May 20 said that the donor community recognised President Salmin Amour’s government but had expressed reservations about human rights in the islands. Norway has granted Tanzania $3.7 million as a sign of goodwill towards the new Tanzanian government but it stated that it was not prepared to consider aid for new developments in Zanzibar. The Swedish Director of the East African region of SIDA was quoted as saying that the problem of Zanzibar was ‘dragging Tanzania backwards’.

According to the East African, international donors have decided to maintain the ban on aid to the Isles while releasing increased funds for the mainland. The Business Times reports that in Finland both the ruling CCM and the CUF are considered to be to blame for the political instability. The Finnish Ambassador said that Zanzibaris needed to agree to disagree, using the parliamentary forum, and to begin to address other critical aspects of peoples’ welfare.

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