Tanzania’s ruling party Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) is accusing Zanzibar’s main opposition party, Civic United Front (CUF) of harbouring anti-Union sentiments in its quest to return the country to the former sultanate regime.
The party further said that evidence showed that most CUF supporters were among those who lost out after the Zanzibar Revolution in 1964 to pave the way for majority rule of Africans.
But CUF dismissed CCM’s claims accusing it of making the allegations in order to gain political sympathy to stay in power, and further called on the international community to deploy enough election observers in Zanzibar to ensure the forthcoming election in October is not rigged.
The allegations show growing political tensions on the Isles ahead of the Union’s 51th celebrations next week, as calls for Zanzibar to secede gain momentum.
The calls have taken a racial dimension with the majority of CCM members in Zanzibar saying those against the Union [between Tanganyika and Zanzibar] have ties with the Arab world and were looking to undermine the rule by the black people who took over the leadership of the country.
“The majority of Zanzibaris still want the Union but CUF is against it because the party has elements of the sultanate,” said Ali Vuai, CCM deputy secretary general. “CUF supporters must know that Zanzibar comprises of people with different racial backgrounds.”
He said that CCM was determined to protect the Union for the sake of the peace and stability of both Tanganyika and Zanzibar, and that most of the issues the two parties were not happy about should be addressed amicably.
The racial jibes coming out into the open during the constitutional assembly proceedings in Dodoma April 2014 after Asha Bakari, a member of the assembly from Pemba said that Zanzibar was under the governance of the “black people” and its Independence was never attained through a ballot box but a revolution. She further said that CCM Zanzibar “was not prepared to give away their leadership using a ballot box unless they are overthrown.”
But CUF spokesperson Salum Bimani said his party was not against the Union but that it wanted it to address challenges facing Zanzibar such as jobs and lack of development.
“We have never been against the Union; all we want is to be treated as equal partners,” said Mr Bimani. “CCM has been using the security organs to intimidate voters in Zanzibar and we are asking the international community to intervene to ensure that the election is free and fair.
The party is also concerned about the growing tendency by CCM to register voters from the Mainland to vote in Zanzibar, according to Mr Bimani. He said the party used the tactic to rig all past elections.
“We are now ready to deal with all forms of vote rigging. This time we are not going to accept any form of vote rigging,” said Mr Vuai.
The new development comes amid growing tension in CCM after the party early this week ousted one of its three surviving Zanzibar revolutionaries, Nassor Moyo. He became the second CCM member to be expelled from the party after allegations that they had attended CUF rallies and talked against the Union. Mansour Yusuf Himid, Kiembesamaki MP and former Cabinet minister, was expelled last year and immediately announced he was joining the CUF.
“I will continue to fight for the three-tier government until Zanzibar gets back its sovereignty as it was before the Union,” Mr Moyo was quoted as saying after he was ousted from the party.
Tanzania’s Constitutional Review Commission under the chairmanship of retired Judge Joseph Warioba proposed radical changes in the structure of the Union, including a federal Union comprising three governments that would give more autonomy to Zanzibar and return the Tanganyika government, which ceased to exist after the Union. Judge Warioba said the structure was popular in Zanzibar and would end Union related squabbles.
However, CCM members who support the current two-tier government rejected the proposal. They said allowing the structure would lead to the collapse of the Union.
Muhammad Yussuf, executive director at the Zanzibar Institute for Research and Public Policy and member of the Warioba Commission assembly member said that a three-tier government was the only way to address the tension facing Zanzibar. It was unprecedented that the majority of Zanzibaris irrespective of their political affiliations were pushing for the sovereignty of Zanzibar.
“The issue of the Union needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Most Zanzibaris are unhappy but CCM doesn’t seem to take that into consideration,” said Mr Yusuf. “CUF, which has been demanding for a treaty-based Union, had accepted the three-tier government proposal but CCM rejected it.”