Saturday, 23 January 2016
Membe Rejects a Total Election Rerun in Zanzibar
Exuperius Kachenge, Mwananchi January 23, 2016
Bernard Kamillius Membe is a Tanzanian CCM politician who has been Minister of Foreign Affairs of Tanzania since 2007. He has served as a Member of Parliament for Mtama constituency since 2000
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations Bernard Membe has spoken out against the annulment of the entirety of the Zanzibar election, saying that the decision has shocked the entire world, and demanding that CCM and the Government refuse to leave crisis-resolution to two individuals alone. Membe is the first politician in the ruling party administration to openly express his disapproval of the annulment of the Zanzibar Presidential, House, and local elections, which were carried out in tandem with the Tanzanian Presidential, Parliamentary and local elections on the mainland.
“What has stunned the world is not a postonement or delay in the election, but the total annullment of election results in all regions of Zanzibar,” the diplomat said at the Mwananchi Newspaper press conference early this week.
The election of leadership in Zanzibar, which was carried out on October 25 together with the Union Presidential elections, was declared null and void by ZEC Chairman Jecha Salim Jecha on October 28. Jecha explained then that due to illegalities and irregularities in the voting process, he had committed to call for another election in 90 days – a deadline that comes up next week.
The main opposition party, CUF, whose presidential candidate was Maalim Seif Shariff Hamad, rejects Jecha’s decision, arguing that neither the ZEC Chairman nor ZEC as a whole have the authority to annull election results, and demanding that the Presidential winner be announced, so that CUF and CCM leader can meet together to form a [second] Government of National Unity.
Throughout efforts to resolve the crisis, Zanzibar President Dr. Ali Mohammed Shein and Maalim Seif have already held nine meetings at the State House, together with former island presidents Dr. Amani Karume, Dr. Salmin Amour and Ali Hassan Mwinyi, without any result; and already the CUF chairman has announced his withdrawal from these talks.
Discussing the political crisis in the isles, Membe said it was shocking that, rather than annulling only those results from consituencies where problems had occurred, election results from all constituencies had been declared null and void.
“What has taken place in Zanzibar has saddened the world,” said this former Lindi Region Parlimentarian. “Tanzanians must understand that what has shocked the international community is the annullment of the entire election. Can it be that among all the many constituencies, the election went well in not even one? This is where it becomes flabbergasting. Where are we heading? What are we doing?
Distinctions should have been made. One constituency, two, three, four, five, these are the ones where problems occurred. So let’s rerun the election in those constituencies, then. Had this kind of careful judgment been made, then it would have seemed to the world that justice was being carried out.”
This retired Minister who served in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations for nine years is also displeased that efforts to resolve the political conflict have involved primarily Dr. Shein and Maalim Seif.
“Anyone who imagines that the Zanzibar problem is going to be resolved by only one part of the United Republic of Tanzania by itself is making a grave mistake,” Mbembe said.
“Our relationship with Zanzibar entails cooperation in good times and bad. The current crisis can endanger not only peace in Zanzibar but also our very Union. We cannot just sit back and watch.”
“Our party and out Government must participate, in action and in speech, to end the crisis in Zanzibar, and if it’s possible, talks should be held there. This is a huge problem.”
Membe said that, throughout this crisis, mainland Tanzanians have the right to know what is being discussed so they can contribute to preserving the Union.
“Allowing two leaders to meet by themselves every day, for one whole month, or for two months, and we have no idea what they’re talking about, it’s inappropriate. How can you know what’s going on?” he said.
“There are serious plans being made, but they don’t want to tell us about it. Don’t believe for a moment that they meet, drink tea, go home, and that nothing goes on in there.”
As ZEC announced an election rerun date of March 20, CUF had already declared that an election rerun is not the solution, and that such a poll will not be recognized as legitimate. Instead, CUF wants the Electoral Commission to announce the winner.
Membe, who was among the 38 potential CCM presidential candidates but made it only to the top five, also had an opinion about the election rerun.
“We have to take a broad view. We mustn’t focus simply on the question ‘should we rerun the election or not rerun it?’ No.” said Mbembe, who has participated in conflict resolution efforts in different parts of Africa.
“That is a small question. It’s possible they are discussing a much larger issue. They may be asking, ‘This problem in Zanzibar, is it this? Or is there a much larger tension here?’ Is it really possible for them to be sitting together for three or four hours asking each other only, ‘Shall we rerun it? Shall we not rerun it? Shall we rerun it? Shall we not rerun it?’
Those who have left CCM make me sick
Membe also discussed the defections of CCM members who opted to join the opposition as the General Election was coming up. They have muddied the waters, he said.
Speaking to a question about how he feels toward those people, Membe said: “If I see the, I feel nauseous. And if you see them, tell them, they should be disciplined by the party for their betrayal.”
Citing reports that some former CCM party members were seeking readmission to the party, he urged CCM not to let them back in.
“I hear they want to come back. They must not be welcomed. They must not come back,” Mbembe said. He was understood to be targeting Former Prime Minister Edward Lowassa, who was involved in a conflict over the CCM Presidential nomination.
Lowassa joined the opposition after being passed over by CCM, and he campaigned for the Presidency via the CHADEMA Party.