Several CCM and CUF Members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives joined forces in January to call for an end to political confrontation on the Isles and for more concentration on development.
The Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) said that complaints among the losers were common and that, during the election, they said that everything had been OK. But, on election day, when they realised that they had lost the election, everything went wrong.
Among the shortcomings in Zanzibar, which had been widely reported, were the management of the Electoral Register. According to Prof Samwel Mushi of the University of Dar es Salaam, some people had voting cards but could not find their names on the displayed lists of the register. There was a need for ZEC to review the law and ensure that the list was displayed at least a week before the election in order to solve some of the problems. Intimidation of the voters was another problem. The exceptionally high presence of security forces during registration and on the polling day may have made some people decide to remain indoors. The Inspector of Police had declared an operation code-named ‘Operation Dondola’ which was heavily manned by regular police, FFU and paramilitary groups based in Zanzibar. “In some places people going to registration centres met police barriers and were interrogated. Some people may have decided to turn back” he said.
“I call upon the Speaker to form a commission of inquiry to investigate the many acts of human rights violation which occurred in Pemba and Unguja so that those behind the offences are punished in accordance with the law,” Abubakar Khamis Bakar, the Leader of the Official Opposition in the House, said.
The Minister for the Constitution and Good Governance said the presence of forces helped to keep peace during the elections and that it was the duty of both President Karume and retired Union president Benjamin Mkapa to make sure the country did not erupt into chaos – Guardian.
CUF saluted President Kikwete’s opening speech to the National Assembly in Dodoma on December 30, during which he spoke on the Zanzibar question. The President said that he was extremely concerned by the situation in the Isles, whereby the constituent parts, Zanzibar and Pemba, were deeply divided. “I will make sure we engage in a dialogue so that we do away with political divisions and rivalry in Zanzibar.’’ He said that he would seek a new truce between the warring supporters of the ruling CCM and CUF…. “In this, I will go beyond the Muafaka” in referring to the deal that the two parties signed in 2001 after the violence following elections in 2000 that claimed some 30 lives.
Although clashes at the 2005 elections had not produced similar fatalities, at least four people, two civilians and two soldiers, were killed and nearly 200 people were wounded in violence surrounding the elections. Some 20 people were injured in poll-related unrest after the elections that sent hundreds of villagers fleeing their homes in Tumbatu Island (29 kms north of Unguja) – Sunday Observer.
On December 30 CUF published its report on the Zanzibar elections. Extracts: ‘The presidential elections were ‘a betrayal of popular hopes’. Zanzibaris were made to believe democracy could not work in Zanzibar’. The report, which is in 11 parts, includes sections on the permanent voters’ register, vote rigging and violation of human rights by army officers.
Responding to concerns raised by CUF members, during a heated debate in the Zanzibar House of Representatives, State Minister, Dr Mwinyihaji Mwadini, said there was no need to form a commission to investigate alleged brutality and voter intimidation during the elections. The aggrieved parties should, instead, go to court for redress. He warned that the opposition had gone too far in alleging that Pemba people were being sidelined, as CCM policy did not allow for any form of favouritism or discrimination – Guardian.
Mwananchi reported on March 13 that Prime Minister Lowassa had directed the Human Right s Commission (HRC) to conduct an investigation into the complaints by people of Pemba and Unguja that police and other state organs violated human rights during the elections. The opposition leader in the Zanzibar House of Representatives had previously written to Lowassa asking him to appoint a parliamentary probe commission. Lowassa replied that the work could instead be done by the HRC which would have ‘constitutional authority’ on both sides of the Union.
The Zanzibar government has said it has no intention of lifting the ban on the Dira newspaper that was imposed last year. The isles Minister for Information, Ali Juma Shamhuna, told the House of Representatives that the decision to ban the private weekly tabloid was correct because it was publishing ‘articles aimed at disrupting national unity and solidarity’ among the people of Zanzibar. The Minister said Dira was ‘portraying negatively’ the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution with pictures of people who suffered under it, thus provoking and instigating hatred. “What is surprising is that they wrote nothing about the suppression of black Africans under the Sultan’s regime” he said – Nipashe.
CUF secretary-general Seif Shariff Hamad called on islanders to prepare for fresh elections when addressing a public rally at Kikwajuni on March 11. He said last year’s elections were rigged and that President Karume’s government had lost credibility among the international community. The party maintains that Karume’s presidency is illegitimate.
Deputy Chief Minister Ali Juma Shamuhuna said, during a public rally at Mkwajuni grounds in Unguja North region, that rumours circulating on the isles about possible fresh elections were baseless. He said President Amani Karume was recognised by the international community.
Mwananchi reported that the Chairman of the Zanzibar Association of Investors in the Tourism Sector had called upon the police to protect foreign tourists from being hassled. He said people had been complaining that young conmen were tarnishing the image of tourism in the isles. Although there were now fewer incidents of tourists being mugged or assaulted, they were now being conned through the use of drugs and cannabis. The trick was to try to sell drugs to tourists and, once they fell into the trap, a policeman appeared and then extorted between $500 and $1,000 which was shared between the police and the conmen. Some of the areas notorious for such extortion were Mahonda Lungalunga on the way to Nungwi and the road leading to the eastern coast as well as Kibanda Ugali Kiwengwa.