There were flaws
The Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) finally published its full 70-page report on the conduct of the 2005 elections in the Isles in early November. It confirmed that there were irregularities including interference by security forces, particularly during the time when people were being registered for the polls. According to the report, summarised in the Guardian, law-enforcement agents made all security decisions during the registration of voters and the actual casting of ballots without involving the Electoral Commission. The report recommends that local government leaders popularly known as shehas be vested with less decision- making power. 1,197 voters were found to have registered twice.
CUF narrowly lost the 2000 and 2005 Isles general elections to the ruling CCM. It blamed the defeats on irregularities in the entire electoral process and called, unsuccessfully, for a re-run of the poll.
The Muafaka talks
The talks aimed at reducing political tensions in Zanzibar, which started on 17 January 2007 and then stalled for two months, before regrouping on 31 August, continue. Tanzania Daima reported that the leaders of CCM and CUF had indicated a likelihood of the two parties reaching a peaceful end to their talks. This followed an invitation to a meeting in South Africa to learn about the successful peace and reconciliation process there.
In early January Tanzanian Foreign Minister Membe, a Christian, was asked on a Channel 10 TV programme what was the current position of the country. Uganda and Mozambique which also have mixed Christian and Muslim populations are members of the OIC. Membe admitted that the CCM election manifesto in 2005 had stated that the matter would be looked into again especially as it was apparent that the OIC was not just about Islam but also about other matters including economic development.
But it remains a sensitive issue and it is not known whether Tanzania intends to take any action.
CCM leadership elections
Much of the Swahili press gave the impression that in Zanzibar Dr Salmin Amour (former President) seemed to have emerged as the winner over the Karume camp (supporters of the present President Abeid Karume). This was said to be symbolised by the failure of Deputy Chief Minister Ali Juma Shamhuna and two Regional Commissioners (RCs) to win election. Dr Mohammed Bilal, an ally of Dr Salmin, won.
Special Forces ‘too busy’ to meet CHRGG
The Tanzanian Commission for Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRGG) said it had had problems in meeting leaders of the Zanzibar Coast Guards (KMKM) and the National Service (JKU). Commission Chairman Justice Robert Kisanga said they were in Zanzibar to meet various state and civil society leaders but it was not easy to see leaders of the government’s Special Forces. He said the leaders claimed they were too busy to meet the Commission. A report submitted by the CHRGG accused the special forces of atrocities especially during the elections – Tanzania Daima.
NEW Electoral Commission
The new Chairperson of Zanzibar’s Electoral Commission (ZEC), Khatib Mwinchande, said his commission was facing several challenges, the foremost being updating of the voters register and the island’s residence law which became so controversial in the last elections when many people complained that they were wrongly disqualified. CUF spokesperson, Issa Jussa told ‘Radio Deutche Welle’ that his party was satisfied with the composition of the new ZEC, adding that it should be allowed to function independently without interference from the government or ruling party – Mtanzania.