Tanzania: Of the Union Structure and Unresolved Issues Debate

(file photo).

Dar es Salaam — As Tanzanians commemorate the 54th anniversary of the Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar the two parts remain in disagreement on some issues, popularly known as "kero za muungano."

The Union matters, whose resolutions continue to be sought, include registration of motor vehicles, the modality of funding the Union; revenue sharing formula, taxation of Zanzibar businesspersons in the Mainland and Zanzibar's share in the defunct East African Currency Board.

Other unresolved matters include registration of international shipping liners under the Tanzanian flag, Zanzibar's dividends from the Bank of Tanzania (BOT), the participation of Zanzibar in international affairs and the Zanzibar Government's participation in the Union budget process.

One of the contentious issues that was quickly resolved when it raised debates in recent years was the matter of gas and oil exploration and extraction. It was agreed that each part of the Union was to enact its own legislation governing its own resources and go about the oil business separately.

Union structure

The nature of the Union is another contentious issue that emerged strongly and elicited hot debates during the constitutional writing process after the Joseph Warioba-led Constitutional Review Commission proposed a three government Union structure. The ruling party, CCM maintained its stance on two governments, a large section of the opposition politicians sided with the Warioba Commission on three government. Some said the solution was a unitary government.

Speaking to The Citizen in an interview this week, a political science lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Benson Bana revived the debate, saying merging the two governments into one was the most viable solution to contentions issues.

"It is high time the two governments merged into one. Fortunately there is a precedence for this. The independence political parties of Tanganyika African National Union (Tanu) and the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) merged to form the current Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM)," he explained.

But both the Speaker of the National Assembly Mr Job Ndugai and the Speaker of Zanzibar House of Representatives, Mr Zubeir Ali Maulid differed with Prof Bana.

Mr Ndugai said he does not imagine the two governments merging in the near future and that the one government Union structure was not the solution to the existing problems.

"Every Union has its challenges, if there are no challenges then there is no need for leadership! I therefore urge people to respect and maintain the Union," he said.

Mr Ali Maulid on his part said; "I personally do not agree with the idea of merging the two governments. My worry is that, if the two governments have not been able to address the remaining Union matters for all these years, will the one government be able to address them in a short period of to meet people's expectations?"

Zanzibari businesspersons shortchanged

Mr Ali Maulid noted that the most pressing matter currently was the issue of "double-taxation" of Zanzibari businesspersons who go to the Mainland to trade.

"Since the establishment of the Union, we have made great strides politically and socially, but more efforts are required to address taxation issues," he said.

"'Double taxation' is still a big concern. Zanzibaris are highly affected by taxes. The tax system was supposed to be harmonised after the Union in 1964. Unfortunately it was not and Zanzibari businesspersons continue to be charged twice when they trade with their Mainland counterparts," he said.

"If the two governments fail to address the Union matters, I am afraid there is a risk for the majority of people of Zanzibar to lose interest in the Union," he said.

To address the Union matters more efficiently, Mr Maulid further called on the two governments to formulate a legal framework that will be used to address the issues.

This year's Union ceremony is taking place today in the designated capital city, Dodoma, for the second time in a row.

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