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There are grumblings and rumblings from disgruntled voices about the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The Zanzibar people have expressed that they are being exploited by Tanzania mainland.
Recent remarks by the Deputy Chief Minister of Zanzibar, Ali Juma Shamhuna that Zanzibar is a sovereign country and will remain so ad infinitum are taken as the stand of Zanzibar’s revolutionary council’s government. Won’t this cock it up for the unification of East Africa?
The union that was hurriedly entered in 1964 shortly after Zanzibar’s revolution is the only one surviving in Africa. Thence, the union has never been overhauled because of constitutional amendments myopically, aimed at safeguarding the interests of the ruling party.
Some analysts think the union prevailed thanks to the wisdom of the founder of Tanzania, the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere. His party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) no longer decoys Tanzanians due to its involvement in several scams. Even before the death of Nyerere, CCM, as its former secretary general the late Horace Kolimba said, had lost direction.
Now the signs of fallout are obvious and tangible. Tanzanians are worried. Will Jakaya Kikwete, the current president swim in this perilous ocean? Tanzania is likely to curtail the unification of East African States for her failure in tackling queries resulting from the union.
Tanzanians say the union belongs to the rulers in lieu of the people. The mainlanders think Zanzibar is favoured in this union since they are having many Members of Parliament in the union Parliament plus some strong portfolios.
Despoilers are saying; the union is archaic and old enough hence needs an overhaul. Some query why a small chunk of land the size of one biggest district of Kahama must be more important than other regions? Theirs is the full union whereby Zanzibar will become just a region. Zanzibar people do not want to hear this. They’re hell bent to see to it, if things remain the way they are, that the union go. Currently, Zanzibar people are saying even in the union of East Africa, Zanzibar must be treated as a country.
If Tanzania can not competently take in shock waves from a tiny country like Zanzibar, will it be able to outfox those coming from big brothers like Kenya and Uganda?
More on the union, Zanzibar people have even gone further to recapture one matter of the union. They took back the gases and petroleum docket that is supposed to be a union matter. They’ve also established their independent airports authority contrary to the articles of the union.Slowly, the over touted union is getting some cracks that are likely to break it.
Another hitch that looks like a bad augury to Zanzibar people is the fact that since the death of its founder, Amri Abeid Karume, almost all heads of the Revolutionary Committee were appointed and passed by Dodoma-the headquarters of CCM. Zanzibar people feel they are being ruled by superimposed mumbo-jumbos made in the Mainland.
To add insults to injuries, there is a fierce misunderstanding between ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi and its arch foe-Chama Cha Wananchi. This imbroglio started in 1995 during the first multi party elections that saw CCM rigging votes in Zanzibar. Since then, the so-called Mtafaruko or imbroglio has hovered over the whole nation.
This being the situation Tanzania is plunged into; chances are that it will curtail the efforts of unifying East African countries. Legally speaking, Tanzania has no legal locus standi to enter any agreement or instrument on behalf of Zanzibar shall she remain defiant. Another blow is likely to be hastened move of allowing trouble laden Burundi and Rwanda into the fold without following laid down procedures.
There is yet another contentious issue. Tanzanians feel their country is not prepared enough to join the union of east Africa as it may cause economic and social problems. Unfortunately, even the government hasn’t taken any appropriate measures to curb this wrong argument.
And sometimes they’re right. Lack of strong and visionary government is a chief suspect when it comes to why mineral-rich Tanzania is economically lagging behind Kenya and Uganda. Recently, there were some allegations that Kenya and South Africa benefit more with tanzanite than Tanzania, the only country with this mineral on the planet. This fear somewhat holds water due to the ailing economy resulting from systemic grand corruption and lack of visionary regime in the country.
Once again, this makes the union of East African countries to be the creature of rulers in lieu of people; therefore superimposed and unrealistic. Where will the likes of Nyerere come from, if at all, the current rulers are myopic and corrupt. Kikwete has already proved to be a let down.
Whilst this is the situation in Tanzania, in other East Africa turf like Kenya, Kibaki is aging and has his share of problems in chaotic-post-election imbroglio while in Uganda; Museveni is busy looking for the loophole to manipulate the constitution so as to remain in power. Will the East Africa Union really survive?
Source: The African Executive Magazine, August 20, 2008