In a gesture of reconciliation, a multitude of CUF members led by Secretary General Seif Shariff Hamad, joined CCM party members (for the first time since CUF was formed in 1992) in celebrations that marked the 40th anniversary of the revolution that toppled the Sultan of Zanzibar in 1964. The celebrations, at Amaan stadium, were also attended by Presidents Benjamin Mkapa and Mwai Kibaki (of Kenya) and Ugandan Prime Minister Professor Apollo Nsibambi. CUF members waved party flags and carried placards urging implementation of the Muafaka accord, while CCM members carried placards proclaiming that the revolution was there for ever – Mwananchi and other newspapers.
Registration of voters
Just before it was due to start, it was announced in Zanzibar that voter registration by the Electoral Commission had been postponed indefinitely because of the unavailability of donor funds. It was also reported, however, that a British company would be appointed to help supervise the registration exercise.
On April 15, however, it was announced that the Zanzibar Government would take charge of voter registration. Zanzibar Chief Minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha told the House of Representatives that the Government was concerned with an alleged misappropriation of funds (some Shs 217 million) by the Commission appointed to implement the Muafaka and promised that investigations would be conducted and the culprits charged. The Government would look for funds and ensure that the registration process would proceed on time. He said the Government wanted the 2005 elections to be held in a free and fair atmosphere to help islanders forget all the confusion arising from past experiences – Guardian.
The Zanzibar Electoral Commission’s new secretariat is expected to be fully established by June 2004 as agreed in the Muafaka under a new structure drawn up by Canadian and Tanzanian experts.
Party struck off
Zanzibar’s new SAFINA party was struck off the register of political parties in February but party leaders said they would ignore the decision because the move had been made to favour CCM and they would file a case in the courts. The party was struck off after its leaders had failed to produce a list of 200 founding members from 10 regions on the Mainland and Zanzibar, so as to be granted permanent registration, as provided for in the law. It was alleged that there had also been endless squabbles in the party and a struggle for power so that it was impossible to determine who exactly the party’s trustees – Guardian.
Six bombs and other incidents
There were six bombing incidents in Zanzibar in March and April.
Before the first of these bomb blasts, on March 6, and apparently not connected with the other bombings, the Zanzibar Electricity Company suffered a loss amounting to 26m/- after people, described as hooligans, used petrol bombs to blow up three electricity transformers. Unguja town has 500 transformers, which make it difficult for the company to organize adequate security.
The incident came three days after the police tried to quash an unlicensed public demonstration that had been organized by the ‘Association for the Revival and Propagation of the Islamic Faith.’ Chaos reigned in various streets of Zanzibar town as angry Muslims threw stones at the riot police and burnt tyres. The demonstrators carried placards reading Mbona Maaskofu hamuwakatazi? (why don’t you ban demonstrations organised by Christian bishops), Mnatuonea Waislam (You’re harassing us Moslems) and Haki Sawa kwa Wote, Karume lazima ang’oke” (Equal rights for all, Karume must go). The police responded with tear gas canisters and arrested 32 people – Guardian.
The property that was damaged or destroyed by the six bombs included a house belonging to the Zanzibar Minister of Transport and Communications, another belonging to a ten-cell village leader (or Sheha), a police vehicle, a school bus belonging to St Francis Primary School, and the house of the Mufti of Zanzibar.
A senior official of the British Embassy in Rwanda and a number of tourists escaped unhurt after a hand grenade was thrown at the Mercury Restaurant in Forodhani (named after the famous singer Freddie Mercury, who was born in Zanzibar). The grenade fell on the table occupied by the British official and her company. According to the Guardian it rolled down and caused a stampede but no one was hurt in the incident (this also applied to the other incidents). Tanzanian army specialists diffused the bomb and there followed a loud explosion that shook the whole of Forodhani Street.
On March 26 the Tanzanian Government ordered all defence and security organs, including the Tanzania Peoples’ Defence Forces (TPDF) and the Intelligence Department to use all their powers to hunt down the people involved. The order was issued by Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Capt John Chiligati who said “The Union government will ensure that peace and security prevail on the isles.” He said that the bomb blasts had been aimed at creating fear and anxiety during the visit to Zanzibar of the German President Dr Johannes Rau.
Mkapa warns Zanzibar’s troublemakers
On April 5 President Mkapa vowed to deal with those alleged to be behind the spate of bombings. Addressing a public rally in Shinyanga he said: “We can’t allow political parties that think they can spread the ‘viruses of religious, tribal, zonal and gender bias’, and indicated that the Government believed that the bombings in Zanzibar were probably sponsored by some political party he wouldn’t name.
Following another statement, this time by the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, that the attacks were politically motivated and aimed at ruining efforts to build the economy, CUF immediately asked him which political party he was referring to. The party said that international experts should be called upon to uncover the plotters. The party’s Acting Secretary-General, Wilfred Rwakatare, told the press on April 2 that reputable international experts, would undertake free and fair investigations, with no mercy even if the implicated people were state officials. He noted that there was a lot of speculation as to why these explosions were happening at the time when people were preparing for voter registration.
Some 39 suspects were arrested shortly after the bombings and twelve of them were charged. Lack of modern equipment had stalled the investigations by the police, Zanzibar Attorney General Idd Pandu Hassan was quoted as saying.
“Zanzibar bombings government sponsored”
The leader of the Uamsho group of Moslems in Zanzibar, Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmed, said on April 3 that the Government was behind the bombings. Its aim was to get a pretext for arresting and detaining some leading figures in Zanzibar. Speaking at Mtambani Mosque in Dar es Salaam, Sheikh Farid said his group would soon call for a demonstration in Dar es Salaam to pressurize the Government into repealing some oppressive laws including the Prevention of Terrorism Act which, he said, targeted Muslims – Mtanzania.
Uamsho leader in court
Sheikh Azan Khalid Hamdan the second in command in the Uamsho group of Moslems has been arraigned in court charged with incitement against the Government. According to the charge sheet Sheikh Azad incited Moslems gathered at Malindi grounds in Zanzibar on 3rd March 2004 against sections of the Newspaper Act No. 5 of 1988. He was released on bail until April 27, 2004. In another case Khamis Haji Khamis (29) was charged with being in possession of seditious leaflets containing the message: ‘The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar is conducting bombings in the Isles so that it can get the pretext to arrest Uamsho leaders and detain them. He was also released on bail until April 9, 2004 – Mtanzania.
The Dar es Salaam Financial Times reported that, in spite of the spate of bombs and arson tourism in Tanzania had not been adversely affected. Bookings to Zanzibar from traditional markets had not been cancelled. Skylink Travels and Tours Managing Director Moustapha Khataw was quoted as saying that he remained confident that the tourism business in Zanzibar would remain robust. Tourists regarded the various ‘scuffles’ as minor issues which posed no serious threat to their lives. So far, none of the countries belonging to Tanzania’s traditional tourist markets had issued any new travel advisories to its citizens.
However, Minister for Finance Basil Mramba condemned the bomb attacks on the Isles and described the incidents as very bad for the economy and for the image of the country. The 2001 terrorist attacks on the US embassy in Dar es Salaam three years before had led to cancellation of about 40% of tourist bookings. Tourism in Tanzania accounts for about 16% of the GDP and nearly 25% of total export earnings.
Compensation for property loss
The Commonwealth Secretariat has been accused of back-pedaling on compensating Zanzibaris whose properties were destroyed during the political conflicts in 2001 between the ruling CCM and CUF. According to the East African the cash pledge was made to the Zanzibar government by the Commonwealth, when the latter brokered the peace accord of October 2001, referred to as Muafaka. Many of the houses demolished in Zanzibar’s main island of Unguja, which is predominantly a CCM stronghold, and properties destroyed during the political turmoil of 2001, were those of CUF supporters. CUF has a strong base on the twin island of Pemba. A senior official in the joint CCM/CUF reconciliation committee overseeing the implementation of the Muafaka told The East African that 90% of the accord has been achieved, and only the compensation issue remained.
But Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, the chairman of CUF, said that this was not correct because key areas including reforming the judiciary, introduction of a permanent voters’ register, and reforming public media, setting up a joint parties secretariat to monitor peace in the isles, appointment of CUF members to the House of Representatives, and a number of other issues, were still pending.
Compensation for imprisonment
The Zanzibar Government has refused to give compensation to 18 members of CUF, who were charged with treason in 1997 and confined in prison for three years before being acquitted. They had demanded Shs15 billion. The Government pegged its offer at 20m/- for each of them. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of State in the President’s Office responsible for Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Omar Makungu, criticised the former inmates, saying they were too rigid and demanding. They claimed that they had suffered psychological and economic loss while in prison. The court granted a request by the Zanzibar Government to settle the case out of court. But the complainants stuck to their guns and refused to reduce the size of the amount demanded. Among the complainants are the CUF Vice-Chairman, the Deputy Secretary-General, a nominated CUF MP, the CUF Director of Planning and Elections, a commissioner on the Zanzibar Electoral Commission, a former Minister of Agriculture, and a CUF woman party activist, Zulekha Ahmed. – Guardian.