Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Karume Day: What Nkrumah advised Mzee Karume in 1958

President Amani Abeid Karume's unity government idea is being viewed in some quarters as being ultimate fulfillment of his late father's dream. The first President of Zanzibar, the late Abeid Amani Karume, believed in unity government but died before forming one, it has been said.

It was Kwame Nkrumah in 1958 who first advised the late Abeid Amani Karume, the leader of the then Afro Shiraz Party (ASP), and Ali Mukhsin Barwani of the Zanzibar National Party (ZNP) to work together, win elections together and win independence together, revealed Mr Salum Rashid Maulid.

Apparently, the late Ghana president was audacious enough to make such a suggestion as he was the leader of the only free African country then. Karume accepted the idea and started advocating for unity government as proper mode of governance.

Mr Maulid, who was the first Secretary to the Revolutionary Council and a graduate the prestigious London School of Economics and a prominent member of the UMMA party, told this paper recently that he was deeply involved at the time before independence and worked closely with Karume in an effort to form a coalition government.

Mzee Maulid, who is now retired from the civil service and politics, said the urge to form a coalition government was very strong after 1963 elections, which did not give any party the required majority to form government.

“We tried to talk to some MPs from ZNP after the election and we succeeded in convincing three of them. I can remember names of only two , Mohamed Mshangama and Balaal and a third gentlemen was from Pemba,” says Mr Maulid who later went on to serve as deputy finance minister in the Union Government.

He told The Citizen in an exclusive interview at his residence in Zanzibar last week that even before independence, the late Karume was very anxious to form a coalition government. Late Karume expressed his disire for a unity government in 1962, at the Constitutional Conference in London.

He suggested that a coalition government for Zanzibar, according to Mr Maulid, would eliminate the political differences. His dream failed could not come true although attempts were made during the first Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar to institute a coalition government.

This is reminiscent of what is happening in Zanzibar today, where political rivals have come together and agreed in principle to work together. Coincidentally, it is late karume’s son, President Amani Abeid Karume, who has succeeded in bringing the adamant Civic United Front (CUF) to agree to the idea of forming an inclusive government.

It was in November last year when President Karume and CUF Secretary General Seif Sharrif Hamad met , in a surprising and unexpected move, announcing they were ready to burry hatchets and work together.

Just as advocated by late Karume during his time, the recent move was also described by both parties as geared towards promoting peace, stability and unity in the isles.

Following the meeting, Mr Hamad went ahead and announced in two public rallies held in Unguja and Pemba that the party had decided to recognise Mr Karume as the legitimate President of Zanzibar, which was a departure from their earlier stand after the 2000 and 2005 General Elections. In response, President Amani Karume also held a rally in Unguja, praising Mr Hamad for his courageous and bold move.

A private motion seeking the formation of the government of national unity was subsequently introduced in parliament by the leader of the opposition in the House of Representatives, Mr Abubakar Khamis Bakary.

When launching a peaceful march to mark the commemoration of his father’s death 38 years ago in Zanzibar last week, President Karume said policy on peace and unity was introduced in Zanzibar by the late Mzee Karume.

He said the 1964 Revolution was aimed at uniting Africans from different political parties so as to build a strong community.

Mr Karume emphasized that Zanzibar can develop as a country only if it cherishes peace and unity, urging his people to support him.

Mr Hassan Nassor Moyo, a trade unionist, first President of the Afro Shiraz Party Youth legue and one of the first ministers in the first Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar told this paper that during the 1963 elections, ASP won 13 seats which did not give the party the mandate to form the government.

“ZNP won 12 seats and ZPPP 6, Mzee Karume approached Mohamed Shamte, the leader of ZPPP and asked him to form a coalition government of the oppressed, Shamte refused and opted to go with the predominantly Arab party ZNP,” Said Mzee Moyo.

According to him, the move by the late Shamte denied Zanzibar the opportunity to form a coalition government. Mr Moyo says the late Karume’s intention was to bring unity and understanding amongst Zanzibaris that is why he brought into the first Revolutionary Government three Arabs from the opposition UMMA party.

“The concept of unity was initiated by our father of the nation Mzee Karume, what you see today is not new, Karume’s dream was unity and not divisionism amongst Zanzibaris,” he said.

Mr Mohamed Aboud, Deputy Minister for East African Corporation, who served in the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar in the past, said during the last election before the Revolution, ASP had 87,402 votes equivalent to 53.1 percent while ZNP/ZPPP had 73,553 votes equivalent to 44.6 percent.

“This division led to about half of the Zanzibaris to accept the British independence of December 10, 1963 just like the way the other half rejected the January 12, 1964 Revolution,” said Aboud.

He told the Citizen that a fifty-fifty political divide amongst Zanzibaris have remained like that for the last 50 years until the dispensation by President Karume and Maalim Seif brought it to an end.

He said as a result of the dispensation, Zanzibar is today enjoying unity and peace that has never been experienced in Zanzibar for the last fifty years, a sure platform for a better future.

Source: The Citizen

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