The unhappy series of events had begun with the Zanzibar elections in October/November 2000.
The government’s view that the elections had been free and fair was defended in the Dar es Salaam Guardian (January 25-26) by Prof. Ernest Njau of the University of Dar es Salaam. He argued that CUF’s refusal to recognise the previous Zanzibar President had created tensions which called for the setting up of a strictly secure atmosphere before the elections; there was not enough time to implement an agreement signed between the parties and brokered by the Commonwealth; if there were some accidental excesses during the enforcement of security measures they should not be used as a basis for baptising the whole exercise as a reign of terror and should be dealt with separately; no party had objected to the electoral roll or withdrawn from the elections; none had taken any legal action; the increase in the electoral roll from 349,000 in the 1995 elections to 455,000 in 2000 could only be faulted if the 1995 roll had itself been 100% correct but this was not certain; it was unfair to consider local headmen, who had been given responsibility to draw up the registers, unreliable, because they were appointed by CCM; crude statements allegedly made by CUF that (the new) President of Zanzibar was President Mkapa’s ‘Governor’ of Zanzibar and that the islands were under military occupation showed the true character of the party; after the elections there had been a bombing campaign and threats by CUF to use violence; the truth of the matter was that the election had been a continuation of a historical conflict dating back to before the 1964 revolution between those who believed in democracy and those who didn’t. The rest of the article summarised what it described as the long struggle of the people of Zanzibar against oppression since the arrival of the first Arab settlers in the year 950.
The opposition had strongly contested the conduct of and results of the elections as explained in Tanzanian Affairs No. 68.
THE SUBSEQUENT SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
OCTOBER 30. The day after the elections. Eighteen CUF leaders held in jail for three years on charges of treason were released. Three Tanzanian Appeal Court judges ruled that treason could not be committed against Zanzibar as it was not a sovereign state.
DECEMBER. The CUF opposition party called for peaceful rallies in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar for 27th January to protest against the Zanzibar election results. The government banned the protests but the CUF leadership decided to continue with them.
EARLY JANUARY. Former CCM Prime Minister Judge Joseph Warioba, acting for the Nyerere Foundation, began a one-man initiative to forestall the development of a crisis in Zanzibar. But CCM Vice-Chairman John Malecela was quoted in the Guardian as wondering what the Judge was trying to mediate as ‘there was no contention worth his attention’. He indicated that CCM would distance itself from the initiative.
Opening a new police station in Zanzibar on JANUARY 11 President Mkapa said that citizens should not fear more police stations because the stations were not meant to harass or victimise people; they were meant to protect them and their property so that they could take an active part in development. He castigated those who blamed the police for doing their duty. “This is not fair. We are discouraging our police. We should not blame the whole force because of one errant policeman. Actually we should congratulate and thank them” he said.
JANUARY 25. Ahead of the main rally, CUF organised a small meeting at Mbagala in Dar es Salaam. CUF stated its demands clearly – new elections in Zanzibar, the reform of both the mainland and Zanzibar Electoral Commissions and some changes to the constitutions. Police broke up the meeting with force declaring it to be illegal. CUF National Chairman, Prof. Ibrahim Lipumba, a CUF MP and several CUF supporters were arrested and several were roughed up.
JANUARY 26. The day before the serious disturbances. Prof Lipumba, whose right arm was bandaged, and 16 others were in court on a charge of taking part in an unlawful assembly. Police shot dead two people and injured many others as they left a mosque amidst very tight security in Unguja, the main island of Zanzibar. Tanzanian Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye said that terrorist elements in the CUF ranks were bent on causing destruction of property and harming innocent Tanzanians for political expediency.
JANUARY 27. In Dar es Salaam riot police battled with demonstrators, gun shots were fired into the air and tear gas canisters were fired. Some 100 people were arrested. Serious disturbances took place in the CUF stronghold of Pemba. That the police were responsible for killing many civilians on that day and that hundreds of refugees subsequently fled to Kenya was accepted by all, but precisely what happened in Pemba, the centre of the disturbances, is a matter of dispute. The government’s statement on the events was as follows: 23 people had been killed including one policeman. CUF was responsible because it had disobeyed lawful government orders. Ten deaths had occurred when armed young people had invaded police stations in Micheweni and Wete intending to steal firearms. Police were forced to fire live ammunition in self defence when they were cornered. The police only fired after tear gas and rubber bullets had failed to disperse people. CUF claimed that some 60 people had been killed and that the police had used excessive violence against a peaceful series of protests.
The Tanzanian media quoted many angry reactions to the police violence: Examples: “Why do police carry on bludgeoning suspects/victims when they are lying passive and inert on the ground”; “The sickening terror and violence unleashed on unarmed demonstrators by the supposed guardians of the law reminded me of the dark days of apartheid”.
JANUARY 29. Forty CUF members (out of 140 arrested) appeared in court in Dar es Salaam charged with forming an illegal procession.
JANUARY 30. President Mkapa promoted 14 senior police officers including the head of the Field Force in Dar es Salaam and the Zanzibar CID Director.
LATE JANUARY. The previously disparate main opposition parties started working closely together with CUF for the first time to ‘draw up a strategy to create true democracy in the country’.
FEBRUARY 9. Tanzanians were surprised to learn that four prominent figures, all born in Tanzania, had been suddenly declared to be foreigners. They included former Tanzanian High Commissioner in Nigeria, Timothy Bandora and Sports Council head and former member of the CCM National Executive Committee, Jenerali Ulimwengu (he had presided over the TV programme on the earlier violence – see TA No 68 – which had shocked the people of Dar es Salaam by showing the extent of the police’s brutality in Zanzibar Town on October 30th). Both were said to be Rwandans.
FEBRUARY 16. The Guardian reported that unknown people had hacked to death the Chake Chake (Pemba) District Chairman of CCM.
MARCH 7. Zanzibar refugees at Shimoni on Kenya’s coast started a hunger strike to protest against proposals to transfer them to a permanent refugee camp at Daadab in north eastern Kenya’. President Mkapa called upon the refugees to return to Pemba but, according to ‘Africa Analysis’ (MARCH 23) a UNHCR visiting team had left the country unable to agree with the government that it was yet safe for them to return.
APRIL 7. Tanzania’s opposition party leaders led what ‘The East African’ estimated to be 50,000 people in a protest march in Dar es Salaam – it said it was one of the largest demonstrations in the history of Tanzania.
APRIL 11. The government said it would not yield to international and domestic pressure to investigate January’s violent clashes in Zanzibar. The opposition had demanded an independent enquiry. “I do not see the need to hold an independent enquiry” Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye told a news conference. “If the government was disputing the event and saying nobody died, then we would investigate. But we agree there were clashes and 23 people died” he said.
According to Majira, MAY 6 was scheduled for the trial of Seif Sharif Hamad and 19 other CUF leaders who had been charged with assaulting a police officer and stealing a gun in April 2000.
PRESIDENT MKAPA INTERVIEWED
In early February President Mkapa admitted that the killings in Zanzibar had soiled Tanzania’s good image. However, responding angrily to questions in a BBC interview, he attacked the media for exaggerating reports of the troubles, some foreign embassies for being biased in favour of the opposition CUF and foreign election observers for not having been in the country long enough to appreciate that the elections in Zanzibar had been free and fair. He added that if foreign donors wished to withhold aid they could do so – it was their choice.
IN FURTHER DEFENCE OF THE GOVERNMENT
‘Opposition parties in Tanzania need to realise the magnitude of their task in bringing about full democracy as their poor performance (in the elections) has been due to lack of vision, strategic programmes and poor mobilisation’. So said Professor Samwel Mushi of the University of Dar Salaam’s Department of Political Science in an interview with the Guardian. He gave credit to Tanzania’s previous single-party system arguing that CCM MP’s who could then challenge the government were now forced to remain silent as they could not speak against their own party. One of the problems with Tanzanian political parties was that they relied on personalities.
A stout defence of CCM and condemnation of CUF was published by the Dar es Salaam Sunday Observer on January 21. Extracts: ‘Those of us who know this country’s politics have been extremely disenchanted by the readiness of the international community to be hoodwinked by the foul cries of parties in the opposition particularly CUF. Since the 1995 elections CUF refused to recognise the President of Zanzibar. Why was the international community hoodwinked by CUF. Intellectuals, particularly university academia everywhere, are opinion leaders. Historically, intellectuals and particularly dons at the University of Dar es Salaam have always been opposed to the ruling party. In Zanzibar our intellectuals had no choice but CUF. Aware of CUF Secretary General Seif Sharif Hamad’s brief political history, having been raised from the dead by the late Mwalimu Nyerere, he has been a victim of self destruction through immeasurable greed and political ambition. It is no wonder that our most subjective social researcher supported Seif Sharif s claim that he had won Zanzibar’s elections although he did not participate in vote-counting. The 1995 and 2000 elections had demonstrated the lowest level of objectivity amongst journalists. Subjectivity has pervaded some intellectuals and journalists in support of very weak parties and politicians in most cases unknown to the people and had persuaded the international community not to recognise the previous President Dr Amour ….. Seif Sharif was a very clever fellow. . . .. His drive for the acquisition and maintenance of power was unrivalled. Criticisms against CCM by intellectuals and misguided news media were often wild and subjective …. CCM stands to be blamed for ignoring the empty attacks by the opposition. CCM could have helped the international community by exposing the shortcomings of leaders of the opposition ….. No time had been spent on appreciating CCM’s strength, historical credibility, and organisational network of members, leaders and cadres which began at the 1 a-cell level, had leaders trained in party colleges, a credible record in governance and human rights. It was the only party capable of maintaining peace, security, national harmony and cohesion in a region torn apart by tribal/religious inspired wars ….
DIVISIONS WITHIN THE PARTIES
Both main parties, CCM and CUF, have shown signs of division since the events of January.
CCM. President Mkapa said on March 13 that a number of different factions had emerged in the CCM party during the elections. He said that they should be disbanded. ‘Africa Analysis’ in an examination of the circumstances under which President Mkapa had hardened his position in his dealings with Zanzibar, wrote that the President had only a weak power base within the CCM and was heavily reliant on his principal adviser and veteran politician Kingunge Ngombale-Mwiru and army and police chiefs. It also considered that there was a split within the CCM between the old guard led by the controversial former prime ministers John Malecela and Cleopa Msuya and younger self-styled ‘reformers’ including Foreign Minister Jakaya Kikwete and MP Edward Lowassa. Others were said to be coalescing around former Prime Minister Joseph Warioba who were disappointed by the President’s actions in Zanzibar, his alleged lack of direction in fighting corruption and his zeal in paying off the country’s debts. There was also a rift said to be arising from the way in which mainland CCM leaders had prevented former President Amour from standing for a third term in Zanzibar and replacing him as presidential candidate by Amani Karume. This had affected the latter’s authority now that he had become President of Zanzibar. In an earlier article AFRICA ANALYSIS said that President Mkapa was now ‘wobbly’ within his CCM power base because of his ‘inept handling’ of the Zanzibar crisis. It spoke of his ‘dictatorial tendencies’.
CUF. With tension still high in Zanzibar, the Secretaries General of CCM and CUF suddenly announced in March that they had signed an agreement designed to reduce the tension – see below. This caused considerable consternation amongst Seif Hamad’s CUF supporters but Hamad explained that he was not calling off the boycott of parliament. A number of dissidents broke away to form a new party which they called the ‘National Alliance Party’. On April 19 it was reported in Mtanzania that the dissident CUF members had started a party to be called ‘Forum for the Restoration of Democracy’. Hamad accused the dissidents of being set up by CCM.
‘Africa Analysis’ explained the situation as follows: ‘Like any other party CUF is an alliance of different persuasions. The majority moderate centre group has been advocating peaceful change for five years but now warns that this has had no effect. CUF promised to share power with CCM if it won the 2000 elections but there is pressure from more extreme elements in the party, concentrated in Pemba, who would like to break up the union and restore the Sultanate which was overthrown in the 1964 revolution. There is even talk of the possible introduction of Sharia law… This faction will increase in influence unless there is some progress towards reform’.
LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL CONCERN
The list of people and organisations expressing concern or shock at what happened around January 27th (as explained in the Guardian), included the EU, the Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Japanese representatives in Dar es Salaam, the Secretary General of the OAU, Human Rights Watch, the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation, Amnesty International, the Human Rights Group Article 19, Professor Haroub Othman, Chairman of the Zanzibar Legal Services Centre who said that force was not the answer to the problems of Zanzibar, the Tanzania Law Society, which said that there should be a judicial commission of enquiry, the University of Dar es Salaam’s Academic Staff Assembly and Students Organisation and the Legal Aid Committee who called for an end to the ‘culture of violence’. The Commission for Human Rights and Justice, after visiting the refugees in Kenya spoke of the ‘eternal shame for Tanzania’ and the need to bring the violence to an end.
On March 2 the Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office was quoted in ‘The East African’ as having accused ‘Amnesty International’ of sneaking into the country and issuing an exaggerated report on the political stalemate in Zanzibar. Amnesty had called for an independent enquiry into the troubles.
Tanzania had a bad press internationally following the events in Zanzibar. Both parties in the dispute were criticised for their actions but the general conclusion was that the government had used excessive force following Zanzibar elections which most commentators had believed were rigged.
Reflecting on what it described as the ‘Nyerere legacy’, Africa Today’ (March) wrote that the 37 year old union between the mainland and Zanzibar seemed to have run its course. Now that Zanzibar President Karume (who was assassinated in 1972) and Mwalimu Nyerere (who died last year), the authors of the Union, were no more, there was no glue to hold it together. The article (by Jackson Malulu) went on to say that therein lay one of the harshest commentaries on Mwalimu’s legacy. After imposing a union on a reluctant nation, he failed to institutionalise it and failed to notice when the country had grown tired of it. Now the chickens were coming home to roost.. … In the early 1980s when Tanzanians had been given the chance to debate the Tanzania they wanted, the Zanzibaris overwhelmingly went for a three-government (Tanganyika, Zanzibar and the Union) structure while mainlanders identified human rights abuses as the most fundamental issue. The same issues still divided the country down the middle. President Mkapa was caught between a rock and a hard place. He was a political orphan of Mwalimu and could not afford to be seen to be in a hurry to do away with his mentor’s pet project. Yet objective conditions demanded that he did exactly that. Public opinion in the wake of the Zanzibar chaos was firmly for a national dialogue on Tanzania’s future. This is what respected law scholar Issa Shivji had called the ‘silver lining in the cloud’ that had settled on Tanzania after 27th January.
The absence of parliamentarians from the opposition camp in the National Assembly and House of Representatives was a blow to democracy as the ruling CCM MPs could not freely criticise their governments in the two houses of parliament. The former Minister for Home Affairs, Ali Ameir Mohamed, was quoted in the Guardian on April 9 as saying that opposition MPs were in a better position than CCM MPs to question and criticise the governments. He was commenting on the sacking of the 15 CUF MPs from the National Assembly and 19 CUF representatives from the House of Representatives for failing to attend three consecutive House sessions without giving acceptable reasons. Mohamed, former CCM Deputy Secretary General (Zanzibar) and a current member of the CCM National Executive Committee, criticised CUF decisions, arrived at because of poor advisers, which pushed democracy to the brink of an abyss. He said the expulsion of the 34 CUF legislators from the Houses was necessitated by their neglect to abide by the constitution and that they even failed to notify relevant authorities of their absence. A political party cannot just wake up and expect to come to power without having long-term plans to acquire political power, he said. Although one of the major demands of the opposition was for the reform of electoral institutions, they forgot that one of their roles in the House was to urge for a change of laws which they thought were undemocratic. However, Mohamed suggested a review of the legislation that made the CUF legislators lose their seats. This should be done to build democracy. He contended that CUF failed to be effective politically because its leaders yearned to go to the State House before they were due. CUF failed to come up with strategies which could enable the party to win the elections and occupy the State House legally instead of boycotting House sessions. “It is an open secret that CUF is a powerful party, but it fails to achieve its objective without preparing the means,” he said.
In early April the London-based press freedom watchdog ‘Article 19’ published a detailed report entitled ‘Freedom of Association and Assembly – Unions, NGO’s and political freedom in sub Saharan Africa’ in which Tanzania was one of the case studies. The report warned that there was not yet democracy in Africa. Ruling parties still had too much control. In Tanzania, it noted that under the Political Parties Act the conditions imposed on the registration of new parties were cumbersome and that the Act effectively compelled all parties to support the policy of keeping the Union. In commenting on the report ‘The East African’ wrote that recent political manoeuvring by CCM pointed towards the country’s backsliding towards a one-party state with only 15 opposition MP’s left in parliament.
INDICATIONS OF RECONCILIATION
On March 9 CCM’s Secretary General Philip Mangula and his CUF opposite number Seif Shariff Hamad had caused some surprise when they announced that they had signed an agreement which called upon the two parties to put past hatreds behind them and restore normal political life. Between April 9 and 23 CCM and CUF technical committees continued to meet on reducing political tensions but reached agreement on only one of the four items on the agenda. Discussions were to continue.
As this issue of TA went to press the Swahili paper Nipashe, under the banner headline ‘CUF compromises on refugees’ wrote that Zanzibar refugees in Kenya might be prepared to return home following an assurance from Minister for Home Affairs Mohamed Seif Khatib, that all but four, who would be charged, could now return home without risk of prosecution. However, on April 28 the Guardian wrote that 700 mostly young refugees had agreed to move to the UNHCR-supported camp at Daadab in Kenya and had said that they would not return to Pemba until the release of CUF members said to be held in police stations and there was an independent commission of enquiry.
CCM received a great boost and the opposition a severe blow in the by-election in Busega (Mwanza Region) when candidate Raphael Chegeni (CCM) obtained 22,512 votes against the recent presidential candidate, former deputy leader of the opposition in the National Assembly and leader of the United Democratic party (UDP) John Cheyo, who got only 18,044. The loss was all the greater because, for the first time, all the opposition parties had stood together in support of Cheyo. These results and four other CCM by-election results indicated that there had been virtually no change in popular opinion in the country since the October general elections.