30 December 2015

Tanzania: No Letup in Zanzibar Over Differences

Zanzibar — All is not well with the process to find a solution to the Zanzibar election impasse, with the main antagonists CCM and the opposition party Civic United Front (CUF) projecting extreme positions and expected outcome.

A day after CCM issued a statement rallying its supporters to prepare for a re-run of the elections in the Isles, the opposition yesterday condemned the ruling party's stance and urged its own members to ignore suggestions of fresh elections.

Meanwhile, analysts faulted the push and shove tactics being displayed over the talks, with suggestions that a mediator would have come in handy to help reach an amicable agreement.

The CCM and CUF stance, coming soon after President John Magufuli held talks with the key players in the negotiations, would dampen hope that a solution would come soon.

In Zanzibar, CUF yesterday told Zanzibaris to ignore a recent statement by the ruling party and stay calm as top political leaders in the Isles were working on the Zanzibar political stalemate.

The ruling CCM, through a special Isles committee of the party's National Executive Committee (NEC), earlier asked Zanzibaris to get ready for fresh polls.

But CUF's acting director for information and public communications, Mr Ismail Jussa Ladhu, said the CCM move was ill motivated.

Mr Jussa, who reiterated CUF wouldn't participate in fresh polls, said Zanzibaris should wait for official statement from the ongoing dialogue between political leaders which are held at Zanzibar State House. According to him the dialogue is at final stages.

The former Stone Town representative said Zanzibaris should give Union President John Magufuli time to deal with the stalemate. Mr Jussa said Dr Magufuli is keen to make sure that Zanzibar political stalemate was addressed as soon as possible.

"We should give time president Magufuli who has put efforts at the highest level to make sure that the crisis which followed the October 25 election is addresses amicably," said Jussa.

Mr Jussa poked holes into a statement released by CCM NEC special committee for Zanzibar. According to Jussa in its statement to the media the committee claimed that it is pleased with the ongoing dialogue but yet it urged Zanzibaris to get prepared for election without considering the outcome of the dialogue.

Mr Jussa added that although the committee wants Zanzibaris to get ready for elections but it contradicts itself by claiming that even if the 90 days from which Zanzibar was supposed to hold special polls expires Dr Ali Mohamed Shein will continue to be the president.

The CUF official added that although CCM, through the committee, wants fresh polls, but in the statement it expresses its lack of trust towards Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC).

"CCM calls for fresh polls on condition the polls should be supervised by another commission but they have forgotten that the tenures of the current commissioners are protected by the constitution; how could they get new commissioners without violating the constitution?" posed Mr Jussa.

As CUF secretary general Seif Sharif Hamad, Zanzibar President Ali Mohamed Shein and former presidents continue to engage in dialogue at Zanzibar State House other CCM and CUF leaders have continued to trade war of words.

While CCM has insisted that Zanzibar should hold fresh polls their CUF counterparts want the results of October 25 elections, which they claim they won, to be announced.

Some political analysts who spoke to The Citizen urged all parties involved in the crisis to observe patience as the dialogue was going on. They also urged political leaders to abstain from making statements which could create tension among Zanzibaris.

Mr Richard Mbunda, a lecturer at the Political Science and Public Administration department at the University of Dar es Salaam, said since both sides involved in the crisis have decided to hold onto their stances, it was important for both sides to loosen them so as to reach a consensus.

"Since CUF aren't ready to go to fresh polls and CCM aren't ready for the October 25 elections results to be announced, I think those involved in the dialogue should come up with another solution," said Mr Mbunda.

According to him since CCM and CUF have previously demonstrated that they could find a solution to the Zanzibar political conflicts, when they adopted a Government of National Unity, he was optimistic that the way out to the current matter would be be found.

For his part, a senior lecturer at Ruaha Catholic University (RUCU) Prof Gaudence Mpangala faulted the entire process of finding the solution for the crisis.

Prof Mpangala said in every political crisis across the world there must be an independent mediator, but the ongoing dialogue in Zanzibar doesn't have one, thus complicating matters even more.

"Does anyone know what is being discussed in the dialogue? Why has the dialogue take so long? Why do the other CUF and CCM leaders who aren't involved in the dialogue continue reiterating their parties' stand points while knowing that there were negotiations going on? These questions beg answers," said Prof Mpangala.

The Isles have been in political impasse since Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairman Jecha Salim Jecha nullified the elections. He claimed they were marred by "massive irregularities", plunging Zanzibar into political and constitutional crises.

At the time of annulment, the results of 31 constituencies out 51 had been tallied.

Criticism greeted Mr Jecha's move with European Union and Commonwealth election observers calling for the resumption of the tallying process and announcement of the winner.

The international community passed a verdict that the polls were conducted in an orderly, peaceful and fair environment.

It is over two months since the polls were annulled and no solution has been found for the imbroglio.

Within the period, Dr Shein and Mr Hamad have met behind closed doors seven times, in meetings also attended by former Zanzibar presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Salmin Amour and Amani Abeid Karume.

Details of the meetings have not been divulged. Both Dr Shein and Mr Hamad have met President Magufuli in efforts to end the stalemate. Dr Magufuli has also held talks with the ZEC chairman.

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