ZANZIBAR AND THE UNION

The valiant attempt by Commonwealth Secretary-Secretary General Chief Emeka Anyaoku to resolve the political deadlock in Zanzibar (TA No. 55) appears to have failed. Apparently a compromise agreement was worked out under which certain members of the opposition CUF party would have joined Zanzibar’s CCM government, but this did not prove acceptable to entrenched party interests.

Meanwhile the tension was eased when CUF leader Seif Shariff Hamad was finally allowed to address a meeting at Malindi grounds in Unguja on August 17 – the first time since the elections in late 1995. He suggested the creation of a transitional government to be headed by a neutral Zanzibari acceptable to both parties prior to the holding of new elections.

The Daily News reported that police arrested 25 CUF supporters on September 17 a few kilometres outside Zanzibar town for unlawful assembly. They were watching a video of the CUF by-election campaign in Temeke and were later released pending further investigations. Some 200 teachers who were alleged to have ordered their students to boycott classes in Pemba last March have been pardoned.

The state of the 32-year old Union between the then Tanganyika and Zanzibar dominated discussions on August 19 in the Union parliament when opposition MP’s insisted that the Union was illegal because the original articles were never ratified by either parliament. But this was denied by Attorney-General Andrew Chenge who said that on April 25 1964 both the Tanganyika parliament and the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council had agreed to the new constitutional arrangement. The opposition went on to ask for a referendum to determine the future of the Union.

On complaints that Zanzibar was over represented in the union parliament Mr Chenge said that, although Zanzibar had only 700,000 people compared to 29 million on the Mainland, both sides had been independent and sovereign states; they were united on the basis of equality as sovereign states and not on the basis of the size of the population.

Meanwhile, Zanzibar has established its own Revenue Board even though the carefully constructed and well financed Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), created under a 1995 Act of the Union parliament, has only recently started operating. The TRA seeks to harmonise tariffs between the two sides but this is something which is also being strongly resisted by Zanzibar which benefits from its lower tariffs. In a sometimes heated debate on a proposed joint finance commission, a Zanzibar CCM MP (Mr Simai Makame) developed the argument further by saying that there should be equal representation of both parties on the commission to strengthen the Union; also because the mainland had far more sources of income than the Isles and that heavy taxes were appropriate for the mainland to protect local industry but not for the Isles because they had little industry. One of the financial problems being faced by Zanzibar, following the cut off of aid by many donor nations because of alleged abuse of human rights, is being greatly eased under an arrangement described in the East African on September 9. Revenue collected by the Union government, including that received from foreign aid and profits of the Central Bank, is to be split in future in the proportion 95.5% to the Mainland and 4.5% to Zanzibar.

A NEW CONSTITUTION?
Some 60 delegates at a two-day conference of lawyers, government and political leaders in Dar es Salaam in late November recommended that the Tanganyika Law society should draft a new Union constitution. The sole resolution called on the society to immediately embark on mobilisation of resources to re-write the basic law of the land. The Friedrick Ebert Stiftung of Germany agreed to provide financial assistance.

Former CCM Secretary-General Horace Kolimba surprised delegates by saying that the time could never be more opportune than now to undertake such a task; CCM had always denied the need for a new constitution. Registrar of political Societies George Liundi also agreed on the need.

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URL

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.