Zanzibar’s First Vice President Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad died on Wednesday while undergoing treatment.
“At around 5am this morning, Maalim Seif passed away. Maalim died while undergoing treatment at Muhimbili Hospital where he had been admitted since February 9,” said Zanzibar's President Hussein Ali Mwinyi.
Mr Hamad died at the age of 77.
He was the chairman of the main opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo) in the Tanzanian archipelago, which joined the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) to form a government of national unity after the 2020 October elections.
Tanzanian President John Magufuli sent his condolences to Mr Hamad’s family and residents of Zanzibar.
“I have sadly received the news of the death of Hon Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, First Vice President of Zanzibar. I send my condolences to the President of Zanzibar Hon. Dr. Mwinyi, Family, Zanzibaris, ACT-Wazalendo members and all Tanzanians. May his soul rest in peace, Amen,” President Magufuli wrote on his Twitter handle.
On February 1, he was admitted at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital and he confirmed he had tested positive for Covid-19.
He became the first person in Tanzania to publicly reveal a Covid-19 status since April last year when President John Magufuli declared the country coronavirus-free.
Hamad, who was the chairman of Zanzibar's opposition party ACT-Wazalendo at the time of his death, started his active political life in CCM and held several posts including minister for Education between 1977 and 1980.
He became Zanzibar’s Chief Minister, second highest government executive post, from February 1984 to 1988 when he was expelled from CCM and consequently resigned from office. He was a “prisoner of conscience” from early 1989 to late 1991 when he was detained for allegedly possessing secret government documents.
Upon his release, he joined Mainland’s Civic Movement to form the now political registered party, the Civic United Front in 1992. He also made history by running for Zanzibari presidency for a record six consecutive times. He never won.
The politician will be remembered for his role in securing peace and stability for Zanzibar despite having lost 54 members of his party, killed in the 2000 election violence — an incidence cited in Benjamin Mkapa memoir My Life, My Purpose, regretting the incidence.
The 2000 election results won by CCM’s Amani Abeid Karume were frowned upon, and civic protests turned violent, and over 40 members of Hamad’s party were killed. It was this violence that prompted the Muafaka — a reconciliation agreement signed between CCM and CUF in 2001 to end the rivalry.