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Thursday, April 14, 2016

WHY THE ZANZIBAR SITUATION IS AN ISSUE THAT CANNOT BE IGNORED:A tale of two grossly exaggerated allegations!


THE words used in the heading of this article are borrowed from the heading of an article written by Freddy Macha in his “Chat from London” column, which was published in THE CITIZEN Newspaper of Friday, March 18, 2016.

Macha was referring to strong feelings against the Union (of Tanganyika and Zanzibar) which he had heard being expressed by some of the Zanzibaris living outside the country, in which he made the following claims :- “Out of Tanzania in many overseas countries, you meet Zanzibaris-born exiles and immigrants who are unhappy and dispirited by the Union.

Some have been away for over 40, even 50 years. Inside Zanzibar, the hatred for Mainland government has almost reached boiling point. Every Tanzanian knows this. Leaders past and present know this, but have not done enough.

Zanzibar is a ticking bomb”. That is Macha’s personal opinion, which he is, of course, fully entitled to express, a right which is provided by the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, 1977.

But in my opinion (which I am similarly entitled to express), the matters stated by Macha are not as big an issue as he makes it out to be. These are : (i) his claims that ‘inside Zanzibar, hatred for the Mainland Government has almost reached boiling point’; and (ii) that ‘Zanzibar is a ticking bomb’!

This counter argument is the main theme of my article today, in which I am going to argue that the said claims made by Macha, are grossly exaggerated allegations, for the reasons stated in the paragraphs below.

For the avoidance of doubt, I should hasten to clarify that I am not at all disputing the fact that there are certain significant elements among Zanzibari self-exiles who are unhappy and dispirited by the Union, because that is a well-known fact, which cannot honestly be disputed.

Similarly, I do not dispute the fact that inside Zanzibar, there have always been certain disgruntled elements who have harboured feelings of extreme hatred against the Union Government, (which they disdainfully refer to as “Serikali ya Bara” (Mainland Government), when they know, or surely ought to know, that under the provisions of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania, there is no such thing as ‘Serikali ya Bara’! My line of argument is simply that even though these problems do indeed exist, they are actually not as threatening to the peaceful existence of the Union as appears to be implied in the statements made by Freddy Macha, who claims that ‘Zanzibar is a ticking bomb’, which is the doom-sayer equivalent of saying that our Union is in imminent danger of collapsing.

This is what I am disputing, basing my argument solidly on the views of Jaffar Mjasiri, expressed in his piece which was published in the ‘SUNDAY NEWS’ of March 20, 2016, that “Monsters exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous”.

In the instant case, it can be rendered thus: Union dissidents exist, but they are too few in number to be truly dangerous. Regarding the matter of the ‘ ticking bomb’. Available public records (Nyerere’s speeches, Bunge Hansards) show that even at the time of the formation of this Union, President Nyerere was fully aware of the presence in Zanzibar of certain political leaders who, to quote Freddy Macha’s words, were ‘unhappy and dispirited’ by the Union.

This became evident almost immediately after the announcement of the signing of the Articles of Union. This is supported by two pieces of evidence. The first one is the total secrecy which surrounded the talks leading to the signing of that document.

Both President Nyerere and President Karume were keenly aware that there would be people, both inside and outside Zanzibar, who are opposed to the very idea of uniting Zanzibar with Tanganyika in order to form one sovereign state.

They were therefore apprehensive that if their good intention to unite these countries became publicly known, these ‘enemies’ of the proposed Union would attempt, and might even succeed, in preventing its realization.

The second piece of evidence is the decision made by President Nyerere, to let the Zanzibar Authorities be the first to ratify the Articles of Union, and that the Tanganyika Parliament would do so only after that had been done.

This was because President Nyerere was also genuinely worried that because some of the proposed Union opponents inside Zanzibar were among the decision makers who would be called upon to ratify the Articles of Union, they might succeed in opposing or frustrating the ratification exercise.

It is in compliance with this decision that the Tanganyika Parliament, which normally starts all its sessions at 9.00 hours in the morning, was on that particular occasion rescheduled to commence its business at 17.00 hours in the afternoon, in order to make the entire morning hours of that day available to the Revolutionary Council to do the ratification.

In additional to that, President Nyerere sent his Foreign Minister Oscar Kambona to Zanzibar that morning, to watch and report back to him if there was any kind of resistance to the motion for ratification in the Revolutionary Council, and if so, what was the magnitude of that resistance. Hence, on the basis of this evidence, even if it were to be accepted that ‘Zanzibar is a ticking bomb’ in relation to the Union, then it must also be noted that the alleged bomb started ticking right from that day in April 1964, when the Articles of Union were signed in Zanzibar by Presidents Nyerere of the Republic of Tanganyika, and President Abeid Amani Karume of the peoples’ Republic of Zanzibar and made public later that day; and the day when the said Articles of Union were ratified by the Legislatures respectively of Tanganyika and of Zanzibar. Those historic days were the 22nd of April, 1964, and the 25th of April, 1964.

That is when the voices of the detractors who were opposed to the Union started being heard.

They chose to play the role of the Biblical ‘doubting Thomas”, by raising serious doubts regarding whether the act itself of signing the Articles of Union was in fact carried out at all, by demanding to be shown the original, signed copies of that document. They advanced the claim that there was no such document in the records of the Zanzibar government. But they did not stop there.

They also made the further claim that the Union was illegal because , they so alleged, the Articles of Union were never ratified by Zanzibar Revolutionary Council (which was the Zanzibar Legislature at that time), as there is no record of any meeting of that organ which did the ratification.

In the light of this history, and since the alleged bomb has been ticking continuously for more than half a century up to now without exploding, it can be safely assumed that the said bomb has been successfully neutralized, and is no longer dangerous to the worrying extent described by Freddy Macha. Regarding the matter of ‘hatred for the Mainland government’.

Attention: for ‘Mainland government’ please read’ Union government’, for there is no Mainland government in the constitutional structure of our Union. But even with that amendment, the position remains to be that such hatred has been in existence for practically all the 52 years of this Union. And this has in fact been manifested not only inside Zanzibar, but also on the Mainland side of the Union.

The available records show that there were not less than five different occasions between 1984 and 1999, when serious attempts were made to establish a government of Tanganyika within the Union structure.

The first attempt was made in 1984 by Aboud Jumbe, then President of Zanzibar. The second attempt was made in 1991 by the Nyalali Commission which had been appointed by President Ali Hassan Mwinyi. The third attempt was made in 1993 by the Union Parliament when it unanimously adopted a resolution to that effect introduced by the G55 group of MPs. The fourth attempt was made in 1999 by the Kisanga Commission which had been appointed by President Mkapa, and the fifth attempt was made 2014 by the Warioba Commission which had been appointed by President Jakaya Kikwete.

According to Mwalimu Nyerere, such action would have led to the breakup of the Union. Hence during the time when he was still alive, he successfully made maximum use of his influence and wisdom to prevent that from happening, in order to save the Union.

And even after his voluntary retirement from the Presidency, his massive influence as father of the nation continued to guide his successors in office to reject all such attempts. But the most threatening of all these attempts was the adoption of the G55 motion demanding the establishment of a government of Tanganyika within the Union.

The 1984 attempt by Aboud Jumbe was easily crashed by the ruling party’s National Executive Committee, which even forced him to relinquish all his leadership positions as a punishment for the ‘crime’ he had committed. Similarly, the attempts which were made respectively by the Nyalali, Kisanga, and Warioba Commissions, because they were only recommendations, were equally easily rejected by the relevant authorities.

However, the 1993 Bunge resolution was not a recommendation, but a directive to the Union Government, in the words of the resolution itself, “to take all necessary steps which will result in the formation of a Tanganyika Government within the Union”.

And this task was to be done and completed within a specified time frame. This was clearly no idle talk because, all things being equal, the government has a constitutional obligation to implement Parliament’s resolutions. Here is the story of that resolution.

As we have already seen, at the Union level the proposal to establish a separate Tanganyika government was first recommended by the Nyalali Commission in February 1991, but that recommendation was rejected by the relevant Authorities.

In August 1993, a group of 55 members of the Union Parliament, famously known as G55, decided to revisit this issue by registering a Private Member’s motion to that effect. After a series of consultations between the proposers of that motion and members of the Government led by Prime Minister John Malecela, the motion was debated and passed unanimously, nemine contradicente (with no one dissenting).

The adoption of this resolution quickly set in motion an unprecedented strong reaction from CCM, spearheaded by Mwalimu Nyerere himself. The CCM National Executive Committee (NEC), took strong exception to the said resolution on three main grounds, namely: (a) that the resolution to introduce a three government structure was a breach of the established two-government policy of the Party, (b) that the three-government structure was unnecessarily expensive to operate, and (c) that the three-government structure would lead to the breakup of the Union.

But rather than engaging in a direct confrontation with Parliament, the National Executive Committee wisely decided to hold a referendum in which every CCM member should participate, in order to determine whether the two government policy of the party should be retained,, or be changed as desired by the members of Parliament.

It should be remembered that all this happened before the multi-party Parliament came on board in 1995. The referendum results showed that a very large majority of CCM members had voted in favour of the two-government structure of the Union, All is well that ends well.

These results were subsequently conveyed by the Party Chairman, President Ali Hassan Mwinyi, to the members of Parliament at their caucus meeting. Chairman Mwinyi urged them to reconsider their resolution relating to the introduction of a Tanganyika government, in view of the results of the said referendum which had confirmed the retention of the two-government structure. On their part, the members of Parliament had no difficulty in accepting the will of the overwhelming majority of CCM members.

Consequently, another Private Member’s motion was introduced in the House, seeking to rescind its earlier resolution. This new motion was duly passed by the House on 24th August, 1994, although there were several dissenting voices.

This was no doubt a happy ending to that looming crisis which had fully occupied the political nation for exactly one year, from August 1993 to August 1994. Indeed, ‘all is well that ends well’.

/Daily News.

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