The sad task of bringing bodies ashore from the MV Spice Islander

A very large number of people – some estimate that it could be over 2,000 – died on 11 September 2011 after a ferry they boarded from Unguja to Pemba sank several kilometres from its destination. Rescue boats, helicopters and divers reached the scene hours later and some 600 were rescued. Most survivors drifted ashore clinging to foam mattresses.

The ferry, MV Spice Islander, began its journey in Dar es Salaam, where it was loaded with passengers and cargo. When it reached Zanzibar it took on many more passengers for the trip to the smaller island of Pemba. The boat was said to have been grossly overloaded and some passengers complained of loss of balance even when the vessel was still in Zanzibar port. Two prospective brides were among the passengers, accompanied by 36 relatives; only four were rescued. Comparisons were made with the sinking of the MV Bukoba in 1996 (TA 55).

Media Coverage

President Kikwete was forced to suspend a scheduled tour to Canada. Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein announced that there would be three days of mourning when flags would be flown at half mast. First Vice President of Zanzibar Seif Sharif Hamad announced that the government would launch a thorough investigation into the accident and take necessary actions – all media outlets featured this news very fully – Editor


New President of Zanzibar Dr Ali Mohamed Shein (CCM) (left) and First Vice President, Maalim Seif Shariff Hamad (CUF), embrace at the start of the Government of National Unity.

The former Vice-President of Tanzania, Dr Ali Mohamed Shein who hails from Pemba, won the Zanzibar presidential election in Zanzibar with 50.1% of the votes. The CUF candidate Seif Shariff Hamad gained 49.1% of the votes. There were four other candidates.

As a result of the agreement entered into before the elections under which there would be a Government of National Unity (GNU) in the Isles after the election, the election itself took place peacefully and without major problems unlike the elections during the previous 15 years.

Some analysts have been trying to explain how it was that the two main parties (CCM and CUF) were able to come to an agreement after their fierce rivalry in the past. The explanation they have given is that CUF finally realised that the CCM would never allow it to rule Zanzibar alone (several CCM leaders made this clear in the past) and, that, if it were to have influence in the development of the country it could only do so in a government of national unity. Similarly, the explanation continued, the CCM realised that it was losing support and risked losing the 2010 election if this was free and fair. The election results, with the difference between the respective party’s votes differing by only one per cent, tend to support this hypothesis.

The Zanzibar Cabinet
The new President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein increased the number of ministers in his cabinet from 13 under the previous President Karume to 19 plus six deputy ministers (compared with five). The Special Seats for women were increased, with eleven allocated to CCM and nine to CUF.

The duties of the new Vice Presidents
Veteran leader in the Isles of the CUF party and a former Chief Minister in a CCM government, Zanzibar`s new First Vice President, Maalim Seif Shariff Hamad, has revealed that his official duties in the GNU will include being first-line advisor to the President and overseeing issues relating to the environment, people with disabilities and the war on drug abuse and HIV/Aids. Maalim Seif also explained that Zanzibar’s seventh phase government was determined to serve the people as diligently and efficiently as humanly possible and that the most important thing was for people to give their all in helping the government to serve them. He wanted to cut red-tape in the public service to the minimum and said he would himself set a good example by reporting for duty at 7.30am each day. He said that Zanzibar would only move forward socially, economically and otherwise “if all people ensure maximum discipline at their various workplaces and if public servants desist from bureaucratic behaviour and practices”.

He hailed the new President, Dr Ali Mohamed Shein (who had been Vice-President of Tanzania prior to the elections), for having cooperated with him during the run-up to the formation of the GNU and the cabinet “despite the fact that the constitution allows the president to form the cabinet even without any consultations” – Guardian.

The Second Vice President, Ambassador Seif Ali Idd, will be responsible for government business.

Pemba secessionists give up
One day after President Shein declared his new cabinet the group of 12 elders from Pemba who have been calling for secession of the island from Zanzibar said their demands had been met. Four years ago they submitted a petition to the UN and foreign diplomatic missions in Dar es Salaam, complaining that people of Pemba were denied their basic rights by the governments of Zanzibar and Tanzania. Coordinator of the group, Ali Makame said Zanzibar can now teach democracy to other African countries. He said the Pemba elders were now willing to collaborate with the unity government – Mwananchi.


As this issue of Tanzanian Affairs goes to press the country is gripped by election fever. At stake in the elections scheduled for October 31 2010 are the presidency and vice-presidency of the United Republic, the presidency of Zanzibar, hundreds of seats in the National Assembly and the Zanzibar House of Representatives, and thousands of seats for local councillors.

It is hoped that next issue of Tanzanian Affairs will contain an account of the final stages of the election campaigns and a summary of the results.

Since the last elections in 2005 there have been a number of changes in organisation and procedures in the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party aimed a making them more open and democratic. For example, the Party, which has ruled the country for almost 49 years, and has always ensured a tight control over selection of party election candidates by its Central and National Executive Committees (CC and NEC), has relaxed its grip this time. Candidates voted in by the people at primary elections have been approved by the party hierarchy in most cases. However, the earlier tight control, with its nationwide network of party cells and its quite remarkable – almost unique – skill in squelching any individual or group wanting to deviate from the party line, has given Tanzania years of unity and peace which must be the envy of troubled neighbouring countries.

However, with the passage of time, people are beginning to reveal their discontent with the status quo and are beginning to protest more vigorously than they have before so that some election meetings this time had to be cancelled midway and candidates have been verbally attacked on a far greater scale than before. This has made for very lively election meetings.

Efforts have been made also to reduce the rampant corruption evident in elections in the past. It has become a tradition for candidates, more numerous than ever this time, desperate to retain or gain power, to distribute money or other bribes to voters. This time however they found officers of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) at most of the primary election centres. Some were shocked to find themselves being arrested as they tried secretly to hand out bribes to voters.


THE UNITED REPUBLIC – presidential candidates:
CCM – President Jakaya Kikwete for a second term.
– For Vice President – Dr Ghalib Bilal.
CHADEMA – Dr Wilbroad Slaa.
– For Vice President – Saidi Mzee Saidi.
CUF – Professor Ibrahim Lipumba.
– For Vice-President – Juma Duni Haji.
There are a number of candidates from smaller parties also running.

ZANZIBAR – presidential candidates

CCM – Presidency: Dr Ali Mohammed Shein.
CUF – Presidency: Seif Shariff Hamad.
Candidates from seven parties qualified for the Isles’ presidency and most are likely to stand in the election. They are the representatives of CUF, CCM, NCCR, TADEA, NRA, AFP and Jahazi Asilia.

Dividing power

An example of the skill with which the CCM party hierarchy controlled and distributed power amongst the top candidates in the elections was seen in the selection for the top positions – the presidency and vice-presidency of the United Republic (one of whom must come from the Isles) and the presidency of Zanzibar.

For the Tanzanian presidential candidate only two candidates submitted their names and one subsequently withdrew. The party then chose President Kikwete for a second term, virtually unanimously.

Dr Ghalib Bilal (right) greets CCM supporters at the start of the campaign

For the two top posts in Zanzibar it was more competitive as eight leaders submitted their names. Among them were Chief Minister Shamsi Nahodha, former Chief Minister Dr Ghalib Bilal, Ambassador Ally Karume and Minister Ally Juma Shamhuna. After much speculation in the press, the final decision of the party’s NEC came as a surprise to many. It was important that Pembans, who normally vote overwhelmingly against the CCM, should be well represented, so the current Vice-President of Tanzania, Dr Ali Mohamed Shein, a Pemban, got the nomination for the presidency of Zanzibar. The Swahili media gave the impression that he was chosen because he has been working well with President Kikwete for the last five years and would be a ‘safe pair of hands’ in any future disputes between the mainland and the Isles.

It was also important for prominent political leader Dr Ghalib Bilal, who had tried for the presidency before, to be given a top job. He therefore became the candidate for the vice-presidency of Tanzania. The choice of Dr Bilal was politically astute as former Zanzibar President Salmin Amour, who retains much influence in the Isles, was said to prefer him. It ensured that he and his many followers would remain loyal to the central government.

The Zanzibar referendum

This Zanzibar election will be different from the previous three, the results of which were widely questioned, as, in a referendum held just before the election campaigns began, the people of Zanzibar voted in favour of an agreement between the two main parties under which, whatever the result, the next government would be a coalition.

In the referendum all 18 constituencies in Pemba voted ‘yes’ but in Unguja 8 out of 32 constituencies voted ‘no.’ In total 188,705 voted in favour of the proposal, while 95,613 rejected it. Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairman Khatib Mwinyichande announced the results at Bwawani centre to cheers of “Ndiyo! Ndiyo! Ndiyo!” (Yes! Yes! Yes!) from a big crowd that had waited for the outcome for several hours.

In addition to the discussions on the referendum the Zanzibar House of Assembly debated a constitutional amendment to give Zanzibar the status of a state which was contested initially because it was thought to be a violation of the Constitution of the United Republic.

The amendment read: ‘Zanzibar is a state whose boundaries include the islands of Unguja and Pemba, formerly known as the People’s Republic of Zanzibar.’ All the 75 MP’s from both CCM and CUF voted for this amendment. This cleared the way for the Isles to have a government of national unity to end the long standing political antagonism between the two parties.

A power-sharing government will be formed after the October elections, and will include the President from the wining party, a First-Vice President from the second-placed party and a Second Vice-President from the wining party. The Second-Vice President will be the leader of government business in the House of Representatives. The cabinet will comprise ministers from all political parties depending on the number of seats their party wins in the elections. The post of Chief Minister is to be abolished in the new set-up – Guardian

The opposition fails again

The 18 opposition parties have once again failed to take advantage of an increasing pressure from voters for change. Instead they have devoted a large part of their energy and resources to fighting each other instead of combining to fight against the monolithic ruling party.

Of the opposition parties only two are of real significance – The Chama cha Maendeleo (CHADEMA) because of its growing influence on the mainland and the Civic United Front (CUF) which, in previous elections in Zanzibar, has run neck and neck with the ruling CCM party.

Although CHADEMA agreed not to oppose CUF in the elections for the presidency of Zanzibar there was little or no sign of reciprocity by CUF on the mainland.

The policies

Traditionally, Tanzanian elections are based largely on the character of the individual rather than on party policy. But examination of the early speeches in the campaign gave an indication of some policy differences.


Readers of Tanzanian Affairs will be familiar with the major policies of the ruling party and these are unlikely to change in the future. They include preservation of law and order including protection of the Albinos, encouragement of foreign investment, pursuit of those alleged to be involved in corruption, continued expenditure on social services and improvements in health and education.

The current president began his campaign by addressing five rallies a day, using two helicopters. His speeches were carefully adjusted for each audience and the promises for the future were numerous. Less frequent were explanations on how these promises would be paid for. – Habari Leo.


CHADEMA chairman Freeman Mbowe (left) hands the presidential candidate forms to Dr Wilbroad Slaa (centre) at a rally in Karatu. Right is Prof Mwesiga Baregu, chairman of the campaign committee (source Yahya Charahani).

Dr Wilbroad Slaa has 15 years of experience as CHADEMA MP for Karatu. He became well known for putting out a ‘list of shame’ in 2007 naming allegedly corrupt ministers and key party officials, which prompted a series of legal threats against him by those accused. Despite vows that they would sue him for defamation, none of them went to court and the ‘list of shame’ was deemed accurate, earning Dr Slaa credibility as an anti-graft crusader in a country where corruption is said to eat up a third of the nation’s annual $9.0 billion budget.

Dr Slaa told thousands of chanting CHADEMA supporters at the launch of his party’s campaign that, if elected, he would, during his first 100 days in power, mainly focus on restoring accountability, integrity and trust within the government. He said his administration would not tolerate corruption, embezzlement of public funds and misuse of the country’s natural resources. Dr Slaa said Tanzania was poor and underdeveloped largely due to poor leadership and weak policies and the plunder of natural resources such as minerals and wildlife. “Under my leadership, the issue of corruption will be history…we will take tough measures against corrupt leaders…. We will not tolerate the plunder of our natural resources by the so-called foreign investors, who instead of revamping privatised entities turn them into mere godowns,” he said. He went on to say that implementation of the 2010 CHADEMA manifesto, which has been dubbed “Hatudanganyiki” (We will not be cheated), was the surest way to deal with these shortcomings.

His manifesto focuses on ensuring quality social services, such as education, water and health for all Tanzanians. His administration would offer free education from Standard One to Form Six and he would revamp agriculture, establish a robust industrial base, create better paying jobs, enhance security and develop sports and culture. Again, it was difficult to detect how these would be paid for.

He said that that government expenditure was excessive and disproportionate (President Kikwete had squandered Shs 23 billion on refurbishing State House). He promised to start by trimming his own salary if elected. Payments of allowances and salaries would have to be cut back by 20% starting with the President and regional commissioners.

Parliamentary and senior officials’ salaries would be slashed by 15%. Slaa pledged to expand the tax base while doing away with the rampant tax exemptions. He pledged to ban official posh cars, and reform the land law. He promised to remove taxes on construction materials to enable Tanzanians in rural and urban areas to build decent houses – Majira.

Whether by coincidence or not, the CCM party has nominated a person known as Willbard Slaa to vie for Dr Wilbroad Slaa’s parliamentary constituency, Karatu, in the Arusha region. CHADEMA fears that this may confuse some voters who in the past 15 years have been used to the name ‘Slaa’ as their MP.

Postscript: It is said that Dr Slaa did not want to take on the virtually impossible task of trying to unseat President Kikwete because it would mean that he would lose his safe parliamentary seat. The Swahili press has been alleging that, in agreeing to be persuaded by his Chairman, Freeman Mbowe, who wanted to stand for Parliament rather than try for the presidency, Slaa insisted that CHADEMA should pay him funds equivalent to what he would have earned as an MP over five years.


Professor Lipumba

Professor Ibrahim Lipumba, who has attempted three times unsuccessfully to become the country’s president, has spent many years as a lecturer in economics at the University of Dar es Salaam.

He said the country was at a crossroads and needed new leadership. Shs 11 trillion had disappeared since President Kikwete entered office in 2005. “This is equivalent to the total government budget this year….When he took power he promised to deal with corruption but what happened had been delusion and deception. The real culprits have gone free while those taken to court were facing diluted charges which eventually might be dropped.” He cited examples of the soaring cost of living and presented his elections manifesto, promising a new constitution and a government of national unity. He also challenged Kikwete to have a live debate so that people could decide how to vote. The President refused. Significantly, to put fears at rest, he said that he would strengthen the Union between Zanzibar and the mainland – Mwananchi.

THE Civic United Front (CUF) has nominated 120 candidates from the Mainland and 50 from the Isles to vie for Union parliamentary seats. It has also nominated 50 others from the Isles to contest seats in the Zanzibar House of Representatives.

CUF National Chairman Lipumba said that his party had invited CCM members who lost in the election primaries wishing to join CUF but added that there would be no automatic nominations for various leadership positions in the party.

He claimed that he cherished the idea of an alliance among the opposition parties, saying it was the best approach to challenge the ruling party more strongly, but insisted that he (Prof Lipumba) was the best candidate for the union president with a vision for change. However, he wished Dr Wilbroad Slaa all the best in his bid for the presidency.

Several ministers and over 70 former MP’s lose

MP’s unsuccessful in the primaries included Minister for East African Affairs Dr Deodorus Kamala (Nkenge), Deputy Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Development James Wanyancha , Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare Dr Aisha Kigoda, Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational Training Mwantumu Mahiza, Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Shamsa Mwangunga and Deputy Minister for Information, Culture and Sports Joel Bendera (Korogwe Urban). Former Planning Minister Dr Juma Ngasongwa (Ulanga West) also lost.

Other prominent MP’s who lost included Joseph Mungai (Mufindi North), Dr Ibrahim Msabaha (Kibaha Rural) Prof Philemon Sarungi (Rorya), John Shibuda (Maswa), Felix Mrema ( Arusha Urban), William Shelukindo (Bumbuli), – Guardian on Sunday.

Some ten CCM MP’s said to have ‘ganged up’ against prominent CHADEMA MP Zitto Kabwe (Kigoma South) and caused his suspension from parliament in 2007, have been defeated in the CCM primaries. They spoke vehemently against a private motion that was tabled by Kabwe on an issue at Buzwagi gold mine and demanded that he be punished. Subsequently, Kabwe was suspended but not before he cursed them, predicting that they would not be returned in 2010. Kabwe’s prophesy seems to have been fulfilled and now he has the last laugh – Tanzania Daima.

Four ministers returned unopposed

Four cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, the Minister for Water Prof. Mark Mwandosya and Ms Celina Kombani, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, have been returned to parliament unopposed. Altogether CCM is starting off the elections with a lead of 13 unopposed MPs. Opposition parties have protested in some cases – Habari Leo.

A few of the hundreds of election ‘incidents’

The PCCB held a CHADEMA candidate over an alleged Euro 1,000 bribe in Musoma. Again, there were many similar cases – Nipashe.

CCM Secretary General Yusuf Makamba said that CHADEMA’s presidential candidate Wilbroad Slaa could not be trusted to respect the presidential oath of office while he failed to stand by the oath he took as a priest. Makamba said: “He took the oath of obedience and chastity but he broke it. He got married and then divorced his wife and now he goes around introducing his fiancée at rallies. How can he be trusted to run the country?” – Habari Leo.

CCM (as also the Chief Justice) condemned CHADEMA for bringing up at an election rally the case of the Shs 133 billion embezzlement from the External Payment Arrears (EPA) account in the Bank of Tanzania (BoT). Kikwete’s campaign manager said that CCM was not responsible but certain individuals were. “The matter was sub-judice and so it should not have been raised at the rally” he said – Mwananchi

President Kikwete greets crowds in Mbeya. Photo Freddy Maro

In Tunduma, Presidential candidate Jakaya Kikwete had a difficult time while addressing a rally when the people indicated that they would vote for him but not vote for his CCM candidate as MP. After speaking for 15 minutes Kikwete had to cut short his speech and even the party’s musical troupe (TOT) could not calm the noisy crowd and had to stop playing. Other similar incidents have occurred at other places – Majira

CUF suffered a blow in its one time stronghold in the Lake Zone – Bukoba Urban Constituency – when its local leader and former CUF MP Lwakatare defected to CHADEMA in 2008. CUF admitted that they were facing difficulties due to what they described as foul play by CHADEMA youths and leaders. “These leaders are doing all they can to tarnish CUF’s image and are provoking us to react negatively” said a spokesman. The ‘Daily News’ reported the flags of CHADEMA flying near CUF’s flags in several places and at one CUF branch, CHADEMA placards were placed on the wall of a house flying CUF’s flag. A CHADEMA spokesman said: “Akili ni nywele, kila mtu ana zake” loosely meaning everyone has their own way of doing things.

CUF speakers have pointed out that Tanzania was in the bottom ten percent of the world’s economies in terms of per capita income, with an estimated Gross Domestic Product of $22.1 billion or $550 per capita.

John Malecela

The most spectacular casualty in the CCM primaries was veteran CCM statesman and former Prime Minister and High Commissioner in London, John Malecela, who was defeated at Mtera by a young and upcoming politician called Livingstone Lusinde. The NEC sustained Lusinde’s victory after former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi was reported to have asked NEC members to uphold the primary results.

CCM candidates queried

Several CCM candidates are facing objections on grounds of nationality or forgery of documents and CHADEMA and CUF have filed objections – Habari Leo.

Private candidates

The government has won again in its determination not to allow independent candidates to stand for election. The Court of Appeal has ruled that the private candidates issue can only be settled by parliament which has jurisdiction to amend the constitution.

Registration of CCJ delayed

The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Philip Marmo has said that the party set up four months earlier to oppose CCM, the CCJ, would not get permanent registration before the October elections because the Registrar of Parties had no funds to carry out the process of verifying CCJ membership, as required by law. The CCJ is one of six parties waiting to be registered – Tanzania Daima.

Mkullo – “I am a citizen”

Finance Minister Mustafa Mkullo, who is standing for the Kilwa seat in parliament, said he was surprised by allegations by some elders that he was a citizen of Malawi. “If I am really a foreigner, how come they didn’t question my nationality in 2005? I am confident because I was born in Kimamba and raised in Kilosa,” he declared. He had emerged winner in the primaries with 6,000 votes – Nipashe.


The Tanzania Media Council (MCT) has issued a statement condemning media outlets that are used as agents of political parties, calling upon journalists to stop wearing party colours and to stick to professional ethics. MCT Executive Secretary Kajubi Mukajanga said it was unprofessional for reporters to display political slogans while covering party campaigns. They should also stop being biased in their reports and make sure that all political parties got fair coverage. Journalists are not supposed to be more Catholic than the Pope while reporting elections,” he said – Mwananchi.


Following the dramatic reconciliation between the two leading parties (CCM and CUF) Zanzibar MP’s have lost little time in pursuing in the Zanzibar House of Assembly the idea of some sort of coalition government.

A private motion was first presented by CUF leader in the House Abubakar Khamis Bakary (CUF) and debated for two days before it was passed. The government was asked to prepare necessary changes in the Zanzibar constitution to allow for the formation of a government of national unity. CCM’s representatives were at first hesitant but later came round and supported the preparation of a Bill.

Similarly, on January 28, CUF, which had been opposed to the idea of holding a referendum as proposed by CCM, changed its mind.

The proposed Bill would therefore provide for a referendum to be held, probably before the next elections, on whether to go ahead with plans for a ‘government of national unity.’

The exact form of this government of ‘national unity’ was the subject of further debate. It could mean a ‘coalition’ or some other form of co-operation between MP’s. Leaders of smaller parties, which have no MP’s in the Zanzibar House, complained about being excluded.

CCM’s National Executive Committee (NEC) seemed to indicate that it would like to avoid such words as ‘coalition’ and ‘government of national unity’ in the proposed Bill. Instead it talked instead of an ‘inclusive government.’ One MP said that this meant that the government would co-opt members from opposition parties that gained more than 10% of the votes in an election.

No time to lose

The pace quickened. Zanzibar Attorney General Idd Hassan Pandu expressed confidence that by July 2010 the structure of a coalition government would be known. While being interviewed on TBC he said: “My office has already received a draft for the coalition, but the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) will have to conduct a referendum and declare the result within three months.”

Maalim Seif falls ill

Maalim Seif Shariff Hamad in Shree Hindu Mandal Hospital. Picture Khalfan Said

As the debate continued on these issues, there was concern when one of the two architects of the reconciliation between the two main parties, CUF Secretary General Seif Shariff Hamad (or Maalim Seif as he is best known in Zanzibar) – the other architect is Zanzibar President Amani Karume – was suddenly taken ill at the International Airport in Dar while waiting for a connecting flight to Oman. However, the problem was soon diagnosed as bronchitis and he went back to work shortly afterwards.

Registration of voters
Just before this, Hamad had had his third meeting with President Karume on the registration of voters which had been going very slowly in Zanzibar and had been a serious bone of contention between the parties following allegations that the 2000 and 2005 elections had been fixed in favour of the ruling party – Guardian.

Secret revealed
During an interview with the Guardian on Sunday, CUF National Chairman Prof. Ibrahim Lipumba revealed what happened before the historic reconciliation meeting between the CCM and CUF leaders in November 2009 which had caused so much surprise at the time.
Extracts: ‘After years of hostility between the two parties, it was the friendship between two politicians, CCM stalwart Hassan Nassor Moyo and the CUF founder Secretary General, Shaaban Khamis Mloo, that led the way to the accord…. It might not have happened had it not been for this friendship… the process started from March 15, 2009 when Mloo died. “From the cemetery after the burial, we all went to his home, where Mzee Moyo looked agonised at the departure of his companion, and wondered aloud why political rivalry should continue in the Isles….We witnessed how gravely pained the old man was, and decided that something should be done… it was from then that the roadmap to the ‘maridhiano’ as the accord is now known, was crafted”…. Mzee Mloo had been a staunch CCM member, holding many high offices before the introduction of political pluralism in 1992 when he was one of the pioneer leaders of the opposition….the friendship between Moyo and Mloo was not affected by their political differences. … Taking the cue from Mzee Moyo, one of the pioneers of the 1964 Zanzibar Revolution and a member of the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council from its inception, the rival parties realised that it was pointless to continue to stoke the fires of rivalry and to opt instead for reconciliation.’


President Karume (left) and Seif Shariff Hamad. Photo Ramadhan Othman Ikulu

There was considerable excitement in Zanzibar on November 5 2009 when it was revealed that the Secretary General of the leading opposition party (the Civic United Front – CUF) Seif Shariff Hamad, whose party won all the elected posts in Pemba in the 2005 elections, had met for two hours President Amani Karume of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, behind closed doors. It was the first visit Hamad had paid to Karume since he had refused to recognise him as the islands’ President after the controversial elections in 2005.

A State House press release said that the two leaders had discussed various matters including the need to ‘maintain peace, tranquility, tolerance and cooperation among all people in the islands’. They also agreed on the need for ‘sustainable negotiations’ between them and their parties.

Hostility at Unguja meeting
Shortly afterwards, on November 7, Hamad had to face an angry crowd of his supporters at a rally in Unguja (the main island) when he revealed that his party now recognised the President. As thousands of people started shouting and milling around the podium, CUF Party (national) Chairman Professor Ibrahim Lipumba took to the podium and tried in vain to calm the crowd. Some of them were heard shouting: “You have betrayed us”.

Lipumba said that the matter would next be discussed in party sittings so as to get members’ views. “If they think we betrayed them, we are prepared to be accountable. Maalim Seif (the name by which Hamad is best known in Zanzibar) has been committed to CUF ever since he left the CCM” Lipumba said. According to the Swahili press, which gave substantial coverage to the event, Lipumba pleaded with the crowd but eventually the rally had to be called off and the leaders were driven off through a narrow alley under tight security.

Addressing a rally later in Tanga, Lipumba urged members all over the country to calm down. He said he was aware that members, especially in Zanzibar, were annoyed by the meeting but he assured them that Hamad would never betray them. “I hear some people accuse him of being bribed. This is rubbish for a person like Hamad who has devoted his life to the CUF party and even spent three years in detention. How can such a man be a sell-out?”

Warmer reception in Pemba
Addressing rallies in Pemba, a few days alter, Hamad received a warmer reception. “We took time to ponder with Karume where we were heading” he said “and we came to the conclusion that we had fought one another for far too long.”

Subsequently, CCM leaders, especially those from the Mainland, were asked to keep out of the reconciliation process which had been initiated by Zanzibaris. CUF Director of Foreign Affairs Ismail Jussa told The Citizen that CCM leaders should remain on the sidelines “because they don’t know what is going on.”

Meanwhile, speculation continued as to whether the two leaders had agreed on anything else, particularly on the possibility of power sharing in government.

It wasn’t until November 15 that President Karume finally commented, although the press wanted to know more than he gave them. He said that no eligible voter would be left out in the registration of voters for the 2010 elections. He made the remarks at a time when hundreds of CUF supporters in Pemba were claiming that they had been denied registration for the next elections because they did not hold residency identity cards.

The President, who will not be seeking election again after two terms, added that “We want both the winners and losers to accept the results. This is possible only if the elections are free and fair.” In another development, the President said he would now appoint two CUF members to the House of Representatives in accordance with previous agreements.

“We weren’t supervised by whites”
CUF Deputy Secretary General Juma Duni Haji told reporters that the talks between Seif Shariff Hamad and President Karume were held in secret so as to avoid ‘interference’ by people with ulterior motives. He said the previous ‘Muafaka’ (agreements) had failed, partly because they were sponsored by the donor community. Hamad said everything was now forgotten and forgiven. “Countries like Kenya and Zimbabwe resolved their differences with the help of outsiders but in Zanzibar that was not the case. It is better for locals themselves to resolve their problems with home-grown solutions. That is why, in our case, no white man supervised us.” – Nipashe.

Some uncertainty remains
Although the two parties were showered with praise by all parties in Tanzania and from many in the international community, some doubts were still being expressed as to whether the agreement would stick and, in particular, whether it might lead on to power sharing. Professor Lipumba said they were not sure as everything had been done orally. “It is a political risk we took, so I can’t guarantee that everything will turn out the way we expected.”

Then two Zanzibar government ministers spoke against the idea of a coalition government and power sharing. Deputy Chief Minister Ali Juma Shamhuna and Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Union Affairs) Mohammed Seif Khatib, differed with President Karume who had said that the issue of power sharing would have to be decided by the people. Minister Shamhuna said that Zanzibar did not need power sharing or a government of national unity. What was needed was for the parties to accept the election results. Minister Khatib told a rally in Pemba that national unity did not necessarily mean co-opting another party into the government. “CCM alone is capable of bringing about unity as that is its policy,” he declared – Mwananchi.


Half of MP’s to lose their seats?
On September 11 an opinion poll carried out on behalf of Mwananchi Communications showed that, if a snap election were held then, some 132 out of the 232 elected MPs would be found ‘not acceptable to the public’. Altogether there are 319 MPs in Parliament – Mwananchi.

Government not opposed to solo candidates
Responding to growing public pressure for the Government to clear the way for individuals interested in running for office in forthcoming elections as independents, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mathias Chikawe was quoted in The Citizen as saying that the Government was not opposed to the idea. It had appealed against a High Court ruling in favour of the recognition of the right of independent candidates. ”We have only gone to High Court to protect the Constitution……..If the court is allowed to force amendments in parts of the Constitution, who will stop it from calling for a repeal of the whole Constitution?” he asked. The Minister said the matter should be left to the Court of Appeal to rule.

CCM wins again in civic polls

Tanzania conducted nationwide elections for local councils in October but it has proved difficult for TA to obtain the detailed results. CCM claimed that it had won 98% of the seats.

There were minor incidents of violence. In Dar es Salaam, some contenders were seen distributing money. at polling stations. In Manyara region some polls had to be suspended after squabbles broke out among party supporters. In Bunda some 200 party members complained that they were stopped from voting on allegations that they were ‘illegal’ immigrants from Kenya.’ In Mbeya a CCM branch chairman was arrested on charges of assaulting a CUF candidate. In Ruvuma police had to intervene following a skirmish between CCM and CUF members fighting over a rally ground. In Tanga a CUF motorcade was pelted with stones – Nipashe,

Turnout was generally poor. In Dar es Salaam region only 26% of the eligible voters registered. CCM took 402 seats out of 446 in Dar, and in Morogoro 259 out of 274. But in the CHADEMA stronghold of Kigoma the opposition got 35 out of 68.

Zanzibar – Discord over voter registration in Pemba

Establishment of a new electoral register in the CUF stronghold of Pemba resulted in serious trouble after it was decided by the government that only those holding Zanzibar identity documents could register.

Among the incidents reported:
CUF complained that thousands of people had been refused ID’s. The ID Directors office was raided by a huge crowd of protesting people but the Director insisted that his office had exceeded its target for registering people and that more people than expected had been given ID cards.
Several people set on fire several houses in Wete district, mainly the property of CUF supporters. Scores of residents could be heard chanting pro-democracy slogans. Police arrested a number of people and took them away for questioning.
Seven people were arrested in different locations in Unguja, when they refused to obey police orders requiring them to disperse after being denied registration because they had no residents’ IDs.
In Pemba North, after CUF had called for registration to be stopped, some people resorted to witchcraft. They placed slaughtered chicken, rotten eggs and beehives at some centres. . Aome electric cables were cut. Several shehas (local officers) were assaulted with acid while their houses had been dynamited. ZEC offices were raided. Some 300 complaints came from several villages in Unguja North where people said that they had been denied Zanzibar ID’s on the grounds that they spent too much time at sea and in fishing camps.’

On September 18 CUF called for an investigation but this was turned down by the government which maintained that such action would slow down preparations for the elections. The Minister of State in the Chief Minister’s Office was quoted as saying that the government was not prepared to bow to CUF demands, taking into consideration that the majority of people did have IDs.

Following continued scuffles between people and the Police registration was suspended in mid-September.
The Chairman of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) said the trouble was costing the ZEC millions. The Director of the Zanzibar ID Department said those who claimed to have been denied the ID were liars. He said: “CUF is telling its members to hide their IDs and then complain.” CUF head of publicity, Salum Bimani said this was a plot by CCM and government to deny CUF members their voting rights – Habari Leo and most other papers. On September 28 CUF urged the ZEC to suspend the registration. The letter, copied to the UNDP, said CUF was withdrawing and “would not be responsible for any outcome.” The spokesperson for the ZEC said that, while registration was stalling in Pemba, ZEC had fulfilled its target in Unguja by 90 percent. He said the poor turnout in Pemba was due to the CUF boycott’ – Mwananchi.


TA 93 described how a row had developed over who is responsible for any oil that might be discovered in Zanzibar – the Union government or the Zanzibar government. The row has continued with the Zanzibar cabinet insisting on Zanzibar’s right to the oil.

In his national budget speech the Finance Minister said that the row over sharing of costs and revenue from oil and gas would come to an end after deliberations on the report, submitted to the Union government on June 30 this year by a British consulting firm, had been considered. The Union government had asked the firm to study how best the two sides of the union could engage in oil and natural gas exploration and how to share costs and revenue so collected. The consultants’ report called for the establishment of a Joint Petroleum Board and the review of the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation’s structure. Zanzibar was not happy.

One day after Prime Minister Pinda had expressed his anger over the anti-Union noises continuing to emanate from the Zanzibar House of Representatives, the Minister of State in the Office of Zanzibar’s Chief Minister’s said that Zanzibar would never work against the Union that had been in existence for 45 years. “Our intention is not to destroy the Union but to defend it for mutual benefit,” the Minister emphasised – Tanzania Daima.

President Kikwete said that since no oil has been discovered in the country, there was no point in arguing about distribution of revenues. “Recently the issues of oil and natural gas and its revenues has shown indications that it could divide the nation despite the fact that it is being worked out according to rules and procedures” he said. There had been hot discussions and sometimes the language used could create an impression that there was a misunderstanding between us. He added that efforts to find oil had been going on for 56 years without any success. 42 wells had been drilled since 1952 and the 43rd one was still being drilled – Guardian.


Pemba island is the stronghold of the opposition CUF party which won all the parliamentary and local government seats there in the 2005 elections. Now, with new local elections due later this year and a general election in 2010 the registration of voters has begun again in the island.
It was immediately beset with problems. The exclusion of voters from the list either because they did not have the necessary documents or because they were not in favour with the village officials (Sheha) or, as alleged during previous elections, the CCM party wished to limit the number of people voting for the opposition, soon resulted in outbreaks of violence.

Incidents widely reported in the Swahili press in July and August included the placing of TNT-type landmines, two of which exploded under bridges in North Pemba; an attack on a Sheha; placing of stones on roads to restrict the movement of police vans; and police firing into the air to disperse protesters. On August 5 police seized 20 landmines at Chake Chake. The next day two families of Sheha were reported to have escaped death when landmines exploded near their houses, destroying one of them. In another incident beehives were placed in registration centres to threaten registration officers.

Security services were strengthened and the press reported that reinforcements were arriving from the mainland

Voter registration suspended
Finally, on August 7 it was reported that the Electoral Commission, after two days of meetings, had failed to resolve inconveniences associated with voter registration in Pemba and that the registration process was suspended.

The Chairman of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC), Salim Kassim Ali, said the House of Representatives had made a mistake when it passed the law stating that voters must have a ZanID, when the Zanzibar constitution stipulated that anyone aged 18 or above with a birth certificate or voting card was eligible to vote.

The opposition CUF party protested constantly and alleged that the government was planning to ship thousands of voters from the mainland while some 175,000 Zanzibaris were being denied registration.
Then, in mid-August, foreign donors intervened. A press statement issued by the Embassy of Sweden on behalf of the EU countries and supported by the USA, Canada, Norway and Japan pointed out that the right to vote is one of the fundamental rights in democracy, and that all citizens should have the right to participate in the 2010 elections. The donors urged political parties to desist from any acts of violence and instead to use peaceful means to channel their complaints.

“Putting the record straight”

Foreign Minister Bernard Membe reminded foreign envoys of the Geneva Convention that forbids them from ‘meddling’ in internal matters. Minister of State in the Zanzibar Chief Minister’s Office, Hamza Hassan Juma, said that his office was surprised by the donor statement “Let me put the record straight” he said. “No one is being denied registration in Pemba, but there are people lacking legal standing to qualify for Zanzibar Residents’ Identity Cards. Some have failed to submit even birth certificates to justify their citizenship” – Habari Leo, Majira, Mwananchi, Nipashe…

As this issue of TA went to press it was reported that registration was likely to commence again and that a delegation from the EU was expected in Pemba.


To finally resolve the controversy as to the precise status of Zanzibar (TA 91) the Attorney Generals of the Union and Zanzibar have announced that, after studying both constitutions, they had decided that the Isles were an integral part of the Tanzanian state, and Zanzibar was therefore not a sovereign state.


Two issues have dominated debate in Zanzibar during the last few months – what is the precise status of Zanzibar in its relationship with the mainland and is President Kikwete going to intervene in the impasse reached between the two main parties – the ruling CCM party and the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) – on a possible power sharing government? The opposition thought that this matter had been agreed in principle after lengthy discussions between the parties. However, at the last minute the CCM in Zanzibar had insisted that, before such an agreement (Muafaka) could be put into effect, there had to be a referendum of the people. CUF was totally opposed to this idea.

What is Zanzibar’s status?

The whole issue of Zanzibar’s status was originally raised by a Deputy Minister in the Zanzibar Government speaking in the Zanzibar House of Assembly earlier this year who gave the impression that he considered Zanzibar to be a country in its own right while being part of the United Republic of Tanzania. This created some excitement in Zanzibar political circles. Continue reading