ZANZIBAR

Commemorating his two years in office on October 24 President Salmin Amour said that there was no political crisis in the Isles and the question of mediation did not arise. The only problem he was aware of was the refusal of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) to accept the results of the 1995 elections. His narrow victory margin did not undermine his ability to govern he was quoted in the Daily News as saying.

Increasing pressure is being brought to bear against the CUF MP’s who have been boycotting the House of Representatives since the last elections in 1995. First they were told that they would no longer receive seating and lunch allowances and then, because they refused to attend morning prayers, because these included reference to President Amour, they were suspended by the Speaker for five days for showing disrespect. CUF appealed to the High Court. The House has also passed a ‘Zanzibar Broadcasting Bill’ designed to help Zanzibar to properly supervise the radio media and also cater for the new technologies and the competition which will arise through the setting up of private radio stations in the Isles.

CUF WIN BY-ELECTION

TA No 59 [actually TA58] contained details of the extraordinary story of Zanzibar CUF MP Salum Msabah Mbarouk who reportedly resigned his seat, took refuge in the Swedish embassy and then tried to recover his seat again. Zanzibar Chef Minister Dr. Mohamed Bilal was reported in the Daily news as having accused ‘a certain foreign diplomatic mission’ of taking part in the saga.

The CUF took the case to court demanding that the by-election not be held but, they lost the case and the mysterious MP seems to have disappeared into obscurity.

GREG CAMERON reports on the Mkunazini by-election: ‘It is in Mkunazini where most of the historical Stonetown lies. Moreover, most of the government ministries, including the State House, where President Salmin Amour works, are in Mkunazini thus giving it symbolic importance far beyond its spacial boundaries. The results were expected to be a weather vane for CUF’s boycotting of the Zanzibar legislature in what the party considers the rigging of the Zanzibar Presidential election in 1995 in favour of the CCM.

The voting went off without incident. Counting lasted until 8.45 am the following morning, with reporters and party representatives keeping an all night vigil. The results were as follows:

Juma Duni Haji (CUF) 1,641 (51.38%)
Sultan Mugheiry (CCM) 1,473 (46.12%
Ramadan Hamad Seleman (TADEA) 1 (0.03%)
Masoud Hamad Khamis UDP 6 (0.19%)
Ahmed Amran (NCCR) 12 (0.37%)

During the general election CUF had won with 3,060 votes (72.7%) against CCM’s 1,151 (27.3%).

Meanwhile, 12 officials of the CUF including two members of the House of Representatives were arrested immediately after CUF’s last rally and before voting on November 30 and were charged with sedition. It was alleged by the police that they had told a CUF rally, prior to the vote, that the people should be prepared for a bloodbath should the party lose in Mkunazini. The magistrate ruled that they should be remanded until December 11 when he would rule on bail participation and the status of the legislators (Daily News). On the CUF stronghold of Pemba many people have concurred with the alleged statements of the 12 accused. Pembans are fed up with the crisis with many exclaiming that their homeland ‘is unliveable’ (hapakaaliki). Even on workdays Chake Chake and Wete appear dormant as if it were a Sunday.

Those who have the means are trying to leave; others say they will only continue to die. Though a small minority may be fed up with the boycott and wish the CUF to re-enter the mainstream to bring the hoped for basic development, the vast majority feel a cessation of the boycott would make little difference to their lives. The CUF leadership has assured its followers that it will form the government before the next election. This seems to be based on the hoped for intervention of outside powers. This scenario seems unlikely however and what CUF will ultimately do to bring about this promise is unclear. The stalemate continues.’

Later the Daily News reported that a female CCM employee had been shocked when she arrived home from a campaign rally to find a note from her husband saying that he was divorcing her immediately. A strong supporter of CUF, he had seen his wife on television celebrating with CCM fiends at a CCM rally!

Under the heading ‘Erring reporters in for a tough time in Isles’ the Daily News (October 5) reported that under a change in the Newspaper Act of 1988 recently passed in the House of Representatives, journalists convicted of ‘professional misconduct’ would now be liable to fines between Shs 200,000 and Shs 1 million. Those circulating illegal or banned publications would be fined up to Shs 500,000 or sent to prison for up to three years or both. Zanzibar Minister of Information Issa Mohamed Issa was quoted as complaining that privately owned newspapers were quick at highlighting mistakes the government was presumed to have made no matter how trivial. He said that he had not seen any foreign correspondent going to the rural areas to write development news. We was also quoted as saying that foreign media were more bent on writing news aimed at discrediting the government and that writing such news was a criminal offence.

The Daily News reported on October 18 that following the robbery of a group of tourists visiting the Jozani Forest, famous for its red colobus monkeys, one of the suspected bandits was beaten into unconsciousness by an angry mob of local residents.

Conditions in the Mnazi Moja General Hospital were described as critical in the Daily News on October 24 as the hospital had virtually run out of drugs and equipment and telephone lines had been disconnected because of failure to pay bills. Patients were being advised to buy the drugs they needed from private pharmacies.

But the economy in Zanzibar is doing better. Growth was 6.3% in 1996 compared with 3.7% the previous year; inflation is down from 18.1 % to 12.5%; procurement of cloves reached 10,339 tons compared with figures as low as 1,500 tons in recent years. Per capita income and population are growing at the same rate – 3.3%.

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