The just ended Constituent Assembly (C.A) is likely to heighten political temperature in Zanzibar, causing more cracks in the Isle’s Government of National Unity (GNU), The Guardian has learnt. Members of the CA from the Isles who talked to The Guardian in Dodoma recently argued that time has come for those who did not support the draft constitution to leave the government. The GNU in Zanzibar, which is made up of two political parties—the Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and the Civic United Front (CUF)—is a product of long and protracted peace efforts that have taken place in the isles since the advent of multiparty politics in the country. As it clocks the fourth year since it was instituted, next month, Zanzibar has remained relatively calm and the people are living peacefully. Questions on the future of the GNU are rife and the feeling among some people is that tension may soon rebuild.
Across section MCA who talked to this paper on condition of anonymity late this week opinioned that the recent heckling that the Zanzibar Attorney General (AG), Othman Masoud Othman, received in the CA was just the beginning of the battle ahead. Othman Masoud Othman, voted to reject the proposed Draft over the disputed structure of the Union government. The AG, who earlier resigned from the CA Draft Committee over irreconcilable differences with other MCAs, on Wednesday, voted “No” with regard to all sections and chapters of the draft Katiba on Union structures and other related matters. His vote immediately threw the assembly into frenzy, with sections of MCAs jeering and throwing soubriquet at him, including labeling him a “traitor.”
The Chwaka Member of Parliament Yahya Kassim Issa (CCM) stood after the AG voted and demanded that he be sacked as Zanzibar’s AG.“ He boycotted committee sittings of this house, and not because he was sick or had any genuine reasons…he is the ultimate legal advisor of the Zanzibar government and his vote is a betrayal against the government and its people,” Yahya said, drawing condemnation of the AG from fellow Zanzibaris. Matters were further complicated for the CA when it was confirmed that two MCAs from the Isles who had reported of threats after voting to reject the draft had left. Adil Mohammed Adil, Dr Alley Soud Nassor, Fatma Mohammed Hassan, Jamila Ameir Saleh, Salma Hamoud Said, Mwanaidi Othman Twahir and Ali Omar Juma, all who voted against the draft were nowhere to be seen since Tuesday.
A senior minister on the GNU who confided to this paper also supported the support of many Zanzibaris who support the Draft. He said the rift in their government is quite evident, adding that it is mainly engineered by those from the other side of the coalition. “It would only be prudent if the president sacks the AG for he has failed to support him and instead, working for his masters in the GNU,” said one of the misters in GNU government.
The second vice-president of Zanzibar, Ambassador, Seif Ali Iddi speaking in the assembly referred to those who voted against the draft as ‘some of the few Zanzibaris who do not want peace to exist’. He said, “Those who voted against the document are the same people who do not know what they are doing and cannot even support their own rights.”
Ambassador Iddi said there are two groups of people in the Isles; one group that loves Tanzanians from the mainland and defend the union while the other group wants to break the union. Speaker of the House of Representatives Pandu Ameir Kificho simply refered to those opposed to the draft as ‘those who do not want good for the nation,’But the Wawi MP, Hamad Rashid Mohamed, while giving vote of thanks openly rebuked UKAWA.
He said the group which comprises supporters of three tier government and those who wanted contract based union and boycotted the discussion should not speak for Tanzanians. “This is evident that they do not stand for the rights of Zanzibaris, and it is the right time for the people to identify those deceiving,” he said.
A Zanzibar MCA who rejected the Draft, told journalists here that all those who rejected the document feared for their lives and decided not to set foot again in the assembly. She said: “Members from Zanzibar who are in favour of the Draft have been threatening and insulting us, telling us we could have stayed out of the House with Ukawa if we had no interest in the document,” said the MCA. The CA chairperson Samuel Sitta confirmed that some members from Zanzibar were allowed to leave Dodoma, just two days before the draft was approved following the serious threats.