Tanzania: Hidden Aspects of Recent Resignation By Zanzibar Member of Parliament

I AM moved to start today's presentation by expressing my sincere congratulations to our readers who have opted to willingly accepted to be vaccinated, as a reliable protection against the covid-19 pandemic, despite the negative propaganda that is being carried out in the social media attempting to create fear and despondency in people's minds, regarding some imaginary dangers being associated with these otherwise safe vaccines.

The nuggets of wisdom in our Kiswahili literature provide the following apt warning: "Akili za kupewa, changanya na zako". This adage reportedly originates from a Wangoni folklore about one clever bird called "Lilikuliku"; who wisely avoided a self-inflicted disaster, by refraining from carrying out some mischievous advice that had been given to him by another (untrustworthy) bird. That is when Lilikuliku coined the said phrase; which our readers are well advised to adopt even in this matter.

The unusual MP's resignation.

The newly elected Zanzibar member of the Tanzania Parliament for Konde constituency, Sheha Mpemba Faki (CCM); had won that constituency in a bye-election held on 18th July, 2021; following the death of the previous MP. But he suddenly announced his resignation, only 14 days later, which was even before he was sworn in as such member.

The CCM Publicity Secretary , Shaka Hamdu Shaka, in a brief statement announcing Faki's resignation; made it known that the said MP had resigned "because of family reasons". But when Faki himself was subsequently contacted by the MWANANCHI Newspaper seeking further clarification on the stated reason for his resignation "for family reasons"; he volunteered the following inside information:-

" Sababu kubwa ya kujiuzulu nafasi hiyo ni kutokana na vitisho vingi vya maisha kutoka kwa wapinzani wangu, hivyo familia ikanishauri kuachana na suala hilo. Mimi mwenyewe nimetishwa sana, nimetumiwa ujumbe, na hata kwenye mitandao ya kijamii vitisho vilisambaa, lakini mbaya zaidi, kuna watu wamenifuata na kunitisha moja kwa moja. Baada ya kuona mambo haya yakiendelea, mama yangu mzazi aliogopa sana, na ndiye aliyeweka shinikizo la mimi kuachia nafasi hii". (MWANANCI, August 3rd, 2021).

However, in my humble view, there is a hidden aspect to this mater. For it is not a usual or common occurrence, for an MP to so willingly resign from that position, except for very grave personal reasons. In fact, I can remember only one previous such occurrence which happened in 1996, when I was the Speaker of the Parliament of the United Republic On that occasion, an MP whose name was Hon. Kihiyo,; who had been duly elected member of Parliament for Temeke constituency in Dar es Salaam in the October 1995 general election.

He was forced to resign from that position, upon claims being made by his defeated election opponent, alleging that Kihiyo did not have the minimum qualification required in order to qualify for membership of Parliament; namely that of "being able to read and write in the Kiswahili or English language", as specified in article 67 (a) of the country's Constitution.

His opponent also announced his intention of challenging Kihiyo's election in the High court by way of an election petition. Thus, rather than wait to be humiliated through the process of court proceedings, Kihiyo decided to submit his letter of resignation to the Speaker , as per requirement of article 149 (1) (d) of the Constitution of the United Republic.

When news of Kihiyo's resignation was made public, the then Dar es Salaam CCM Regional Secretary hurriedly came to my Office, to 'advise' me that I should help CCM by refusing to accept Kihiyo's resignation, as that would save the party from the high risk involved in a byelection which, he feared, our party could probably lose.

But instead of doing that, I actually refused to accept his (uninformed) advise; by carefully explaining to him the requirements of article 149 (1) (2) of the Constitution in this particular respect; which is that an MP's resignation becomes effective immediately upon receipt by the Speaker of the relevant resignation letter; and that the Speaker therefore does not have the option of refusing to accept that resignation.

This is perhaps an opportune time, to remind our readers about the aphorism which I quoted in last week's presentation; that "the good fortune of a nation depends on three factors, namely the Constitution; the way that Constitution is made to work; and the confidence it inspires".

Because the majority of our people are obviously not aware of this constitutional provision, I could have easily got away with such irresponsible leadership misconduct. But fortunately, my genuine devotion to 'leadership ethics' prevented me from taking such a damaging course of action.

"Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it"

I am indebted to political analyst Andrew Bomani for the above quotation, which I learnt from his latest blog published in the CITIZEN Newspaper of Wednesday 4th August, 2021; in which he presented this ' nugget of wisdom' as his quotation from the Spanish philosopher George Santayana. And, indeed, because Zanzibar has a long history of post-election problems which repeatedly resulted in the creation of unavoidable political impasses; this 'nugget of wisdom' is certainly worth remembering, in order to avoid "being condemned to repeat them". The paragraphs below will narrate the relevant story.

Remembering Zanzibar's past socio-political impasses. It all started a long time ago.

The Zanzibar colonial government's Annual Report for the year 1958, gives the following information:-

"The results of the Zanzibar general election of 1957, will be remembered largely for the manner in which it affected the lives of every community in Zanzibar. Traders, farmers, employed workers, fishermen, wakwezi (coconut harvesters), and even house wives; were all badly affected. Members of different political parties boycotted funerals related to their political rivals, and even boycotted their religious functions. These were the negative consequences created by the results of the first general election in these Islands, whose people were previously living happily in total harmony and peace".

It is the violence factor to which I am drawing attention; because similar violence occurred in all the subsequent general elections in Zanzibar during the colonial period. For example, it is reported that following the results of the January and October 1961 general election , a total of 68 people were killed in the ensuing violence, and 350 others were injured.

That background is probably what accounts for President Abeid Karume's 'angry declaration' when he assumed power after the January 1964 revolution, that "there will be no elections in Zanzibar for the next fifty years".

President Karume was, in addition, utterly frustrated by the way in which the Afro-Shirazi party was repeatedly 'robbed' of its victory in those colonial managed elections even when that party had clearly won the relevant election; as happened in the 1963 general election in which the Afro-Shirazi Party won 54% of the total votes cast in Pemba, but was able to obtain only 13 Legislative seats, compared to 18 seats secured by the coalition of two Arab parties: the Zanzibar Nationalist Party and the Zanzibar and Pemba People's Party; due to the colonial Administration's gerrymandering of the electoral constituencies therein.

And, indeed, during the whole of the period of "no elections" which followed, there was total social tranquility and calm, just because there were no postelection protests expressed through violence.

And even when competitive elections were resumed under the 1979 Zanzibar 'One party' Constitution, they produced no post- election problems of that kind. However, the return to multi-party politics in 1992, drastically changed all that.

The impact of Zanzibar's multi-party electoral competition.

With the country's return to multi-party politics; Zanzibar suddenly reverted to its pre-revolution political antagonism between the two main parties, CCM and CUF, which started right from the first multi-party general election of 1995.

These parties were, in effect, the successors to the old antagonistic parties of the colonial period; with CCM being the acknowledged successor of the former Afro Shirazi Party, and CUF being the presumed successor of the former coalition of the Zanzibar Nationalist Party and the Zanzibar and Pemba People's Party.

Thus, as was the case previously, the losing party CUF refused to accept the results of the 1995 general election, and announced total non-cooperation with the elected CCM government of Zanzibar.

Some of the CUF members even started engaging themselves in certain unlawful acts, in futile attempts to undermine the operations of the government; whereupon, in order to maintain peace, the government reacted strongly by arresting several CUF leaders and indicting them with the grave offence of treason.

This caused many other CUF leaders and members to flee to a location called Shimoni in Mombasa, Kenya; for fear of being similarly arrested. Taken together, these negative developments created the first post-revolution 'political impasse' in Zanzibar; a situation which was, unfortunately, repeated after every general election thereafter, until the situation was rescued by the Agreement to form a 'Government of National Unity', which was successfully formed in 2010.

The hidden aspects of Faki's resignation.

In the light of the public statements which were made by some of the top leaders of ACT - WAZALENDO in their opposition to the Konde bye-election results, it is quite clear that they were contemplating a withdrawal from the Government of National Unity (GNU); as a result of their strong contention that " they were the rightful winners of the said Konde constituency by-election; and that CCM had been given that victory illegally by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission".

This is precisely the hidden aspect of Faki's resignation, which has fortunately saved Zanzibar from such disaster. This was confirmed by another Opposition party leader, Chairman of the NCCR - MAGEUZI James Mbatia, who said the following: "Kujiuzulu kwake ni jambo la heri, kwa sababu ingeleta shari kama wangeendelea kushikilia Jimbo hilo, kwani yangetokea maafa makubwa zaidi".

The background to the formation of the government of National Unity in Zanzibar. For the benefit of those who are interested to know, I should explain that the formation of Zanzibar's 'Government of National Unity' was the result of a long process of negotiations between Chama cha Mapinduzi and the former Civic United Front, which was under the ledership of the late Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad.

These negotiations started way back in 1996, following the political impasse in Zanzibar which had been created by CUF's refusal to accept the results of first multi-party general election of 1995;.

Those negotiations produced the Agreement known as MUAFAKA 1, arrived at in 1999. However, the general election of the year 2000 resulted in a repetition of the same stalemate; and the negotiations had to be resumed; which produced MUAFAKA II, Unfortunately, history again repeated itself.

The results of the 2005 general election produced exactly the same problem; and the negotiations had to be resumed again, in a determined effort to find a lasting solution.

And, indeed, a lasting solution was found this time in the form of MUAFAKA III; which was the Agreement to form a Government of National Unity in Zanzibar that came into existence immediately following the 2010 general election.

Thus, the signs that the Konde parliamentary byelection might dissolve this Agreement, was a real and genuine worry for "the nation's Authorities 'who wear the crown' ("uneasy lies the head that wears the crown"). piomsekwa@gmai.com / 0754767576

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