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Thursday, March 31, 2016

BOYCOTTING ELECTIONS HAS ITS CONSEQUENCES (2) Now the President of Zanzibar cannot form a government of national unity


IN an earlier article with the same message written for this column, I expressed the view that the concept of “government by political party”, which is the foundation of the multi-party system of government, has a number of disadvantages and mentioned some of them as follows:-

(a) that a political party having been elected to power, may act viciously towards its political opponents; (b)that all those who voted for the losing party (and they could be very many) will be governed for long periods of up to five years, on the basis of policies and programmes with which they disagree, (c) that able men and women who are outside of the winning party, can play no effective part in the governance system.

In that connection, the party that boycotted the elections will, to all intents and purposes, be treated as the losing party, and will therefore be subjected to all the listed disadvantages.

This is what has happened in Zanzibar as a result of the 20th March re-run general election. But this particular boycott has added an even more serious disadvantage (or call it a dilemma), namely that the President of Zanzibar cannot form a Government of National Unity (GNU), as required by the relevant provisions of the Constitution of Zanzibar, 1984, as extensively amended in 2010 following a referendum which approved the establishment of a power sharing system.This is the outcome of the boycott imposed by CUF, which strictly forbade participation by its members in this particular exercise.

The results of the rerun general election did not produce any opposition political party which satisfies the constitutional requirements for the formation of a government of national unity.

Hence the ensuing dilemma which now faces the Zanzibar President. This easily confirms the proposition that boycotting elections has its consequences, and, in this particular case, very serious consequences; as demonstrated here below.

The consequences : (a) the question of legitimacy. Legitimacy is indeed a basic quality of a stable polity, as well as a social requirement for democracy.

It becomes relevant when all the major groups do not secure access to the governance system. For this reason, there will be those political pundits who will probably argue that because one major political group in Zanzibar, namely CUF, has been left out of the governance system, the governing group will, presumably, be lacking in legitimacy.

But such arguments cannot be sustained in the case of Zanzibar, for reasons which I will endeavour to explain in the paragraphs which follows below.

The International Encyclopedia of Social Studies, Vol. 9 (Macmillan Press, London); defines the word ‘legitimacy’ as follows: “Legitimacy is the foundation of such governmental power as is exercised both with a consciousness on the government’s part that it has a right to govern and with some recognition by the governed of that right”.\Page24.

According to Zanzibar’s electoral management body ZEC, a total of 503,580 persons were registered for this election, out of whom 341,865 turned out to cast their votes, equal to 67.9%. CCM Presidential candidate Dr. Ali Mohamed Shein garnered 299,982 votes out of the 328,327 valid votes cast, which is a historic 91.4% win.

This gives the winner perfect legal and Constitutional legitimacy to govern Zanzibar, and to form a government thereof, which will carry out this governance task.

Therefore, both in fact and in law, President Shein has completely satisfied the requirements for BOYCOTTING ELECTIONS HAS ITS CONSEQUENCES (2) Now the President of Zanzibar cannot form a government of national unity ‘legitimacy’, as defined above, in terms of which he has a clear ‘consciousness that he has a right to govern’, and in view of the large turnout of voters (67.9%), it is quite clear that “the majority of those who will be governed by him also recognize that right”.

For purposes of comparison, it may be remembered that in the 2010 general elections for the Union president, the turnout of voters was only 42% of the total registered number of registered voters, yet that was enough to give the winner unquestioned legitimacy to govern the country.

(b) Dilemma in forming a government of national unity (GNU). The formation of a government of national unity as required by the Zanzibar Constitution quickly raises a significant dilemma.

In the first place, there is the difficult issue of appointing the First Vice-President. Article 39(3) of the Constitution of Zanzibar, 1984, stipulates that the First Vice-President shall be appointed from the opposition party which secures the second highest number of votes, provided that this number exceeds 10% of the total valid votes cast.

The same article provides that “if no opposition party wins the required number of votes, that position goes to the opposition party which secured the second largest number of seats in the House of Representatives.

However, the results of the re-run general elections shows that no opposition party has satisfied these constitutional requirements.

The second highest winner, in terms of number of votes secured, was the ADC candidate Hamad Rashid Mohamed, who managed only three per cent of the total count; which therefore disqualifies him for the post, for having failed to reach the 10% minimum requirement.

Furthermore, his party also failed to win even a single seat in the House of Representatives, CCM having grabbed all the seats therein, this being a result of the boycott imposed by CUF, and supported by other opposition parties mainly from the UKAWA coalition.

Hence, the picture which emerges very clearly is that under the prevailing circumstances, the formation of a government of national unity is practically impossible.

One very serious consequence of the said boycott. A government of national unity is an absolute necessity. The need for a government of national unity in Zanzibar cannot be overemphasized.

It is a direct result of intense negotiations which took 14 months to conclude, between the ruling party CCM, and the main opposition party CUF, before the power sharing Agreement was eventually reached and signed in March 2008.

But in fact, these negotiations started right from the time of the aftermath of the first multiparty general elections which were held in Zanzibar in 1995, to try and resolve what appeared at that time to be the main issue.

This was the non-recognition of the election results by CUF, immediately followed by boycotts of one kind or another, such as ordering their elected members of the Union Parliament as well as of the Zanzibar House of Representatives to boycott all meetings of these institutions.

The first Agreement in that respect was reached in 1999, which was code-named MUAFAKA 1. But similar problems re-surfaced after the second multi-part general elections of the year 2000, so the negotiations were dutifully resumed, which resulted in a second Agreement known as MUAFAKA II , which, unfortunately, did not hold either. But there was to be no giving up.

There is one Kizanaki proverb which Mwalimu Nyerere was so fond of telling, which runs like this: His friend asked Rabbit: “Rabbit, where are you going? Rabbit replied: I am going out to kill the elephant” . His friend asked again: “can you really do that? Rabbit replied: “Well, I will try, and try again” .

It is this spirit of ‘trying, and trying again’ which inspired the two parties, CCM and CUF, to continue negotiating even after the failed implementation of both MUAFAKA 1 and MUAFAKA II. It is only after the third general election of the year 2005, when it was realized that the previous negotiations and the resulting Agreements were treating only the symptoms , and not the root cause of this repeatedly recurring political problem.

And that is when the direction of the negotiations was changed significantly, in order to search for a more lasting, or even permanent, solution.

The envisaged permanent solution was no other than an Agreement to form a government of national unity between the parties participating in a general election, in accordance with a formula which was also unanimously agreed, in what is known as MUAFAKA III.

Those of us who participated fully in the process of the said negotiations leading to the achievement of the historic MUAFAKA III, had sincerely hoped that we had found an effective cure for the problem of the seemingly endless post election disputes and conflicts, which we knew to be the struggle for power to govern Zanzibar .

Hence, we had hoped, that such struggles will be relatively mild when the major contestants were guaranteed a place in the governance system, irrespective of who wins or loses.

But alas, apparently that was not to be. For despite the apparent benefits of the MUAFAKA III Agreement, we are still witnessing serious problems, this time relating to the formation of the desired government, namely the government of national unity. (c ) A self-inflicted injury.

A self-inflicted injury is an injury which is deliberately inflicted by a person upon himself, in the full knowledge and understanding of its harmful effects.

Hence another, and fully debilitating consequence of the CUF election boycott, is that CUF has now lost everything! They have of course lost the Vice-Presidency which they held before the elections, but they have also lost any representation in the House of Representatives, as well as in the Local Government Councils.

Hence, unless something is done about it, they will henceforth become mere spectators of the governance system for the next five years, which is a very unpleasant situation to be in for such a major and influential political actor in Zanzibar politics.

But this was certainly a ‘self-inflicted injury’, for they surely must have foreseen that this is what would inevitably happen as a result of their boycott, yet they nevertheless deliberately went ahead with it, come what may!

It is my sincere hope, and presumably that of many other Tanzanians of good will, that greater wisdom will now prevail, and that both parties will be willing to find a solution to this crisis. What is the way out?

There are probably more ways than one. But the ‘ready-to wear garment’ is in article 40(1) of the Zanzibar Constitution, which gives the President power to appoint “any suitable person” to fill the position of First Vice- President.

Yet even this option still leaves unresolved the big question of appointing Ministers from the opposition camp which, according to the Zanzibar Constitution, must be made “in proportion to the number of seats obtained by them in the House of Representatives”. The difficulty arises because of the fact that CCM has won all the seats in that House.

Another possible option is for the House of Representatives to make further amendments to the Zanzibar in order to accommodate the current situation, by introducing amendments which will enable the opposition camp to be incorporated into the governance system.

President Shein has publicly committed himself to resolve the Zanzibar political crisis in his victory speech, when he said the following: “I will serve all Zanzibari’s irrespective of their different political ideologies . . . the majority of the people have chosen me to be their leader, but I am acutely aware of the current political impasse, and will do everything in my power to resolve the crisis”. The need for dialogue.

The parties to the Zanzibar impasse should follow the example set by that unusually daring rabbit of the Kizanaki proverb which we quoted above. They should be prepared to ‘ try and try again’ to find a viable solution to the present dilemma, through genuine and well intentioned dialogue.

The universal concept that ‘legitimate governance is obtained through the ballot box’, is a core concept of democracy. The boycotting party should therefore first accept this core concept of democracy , and proceed from there to participating meaningfully in the search for a solutions acceptable to both sides. And this can only be done through genuine and well intentioned dialogue.

We have already seen that in the past, such dialogue actually enabled CCM and CUF to reach Agreement regarding the formation of the government of national unity (MUAFAKA III).

There is therefore every reason to believe that further similar dialogue will enable these same parties to reach a similar MUAFAKA, which will hopefully bail Zanzibar out of the current crisis.

/Daily News.

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