Tuesday, 15 February 2011

We Want More Say in This Union, Zanzibar Tells Tanzania Govt

NairobiThe course of the 47-year existence of the United Republic of Tanzania has been anything but smooth.

From Zanzibar nationalism, the structure of government, and inequity in the sharing of government offices within the Union to sharing the benefits and costs including revenue and foreign aid, the problems have kept coming back to haunt the Union government.

According to a report of the Kituo Cha Katiba fact-finding mission to Tanzania, with regard to the economy, Zanzibar argues that there are unfair fiscal and monetary agreements that kill its economy.

For example, it points out that there is double taxation of goods imported into the Tanzania Mainland from Zanzibar.

Petroleum and natural gas, which are likely to be discovered off the islands, have been included in the list of Union matters.

However, gold, diamonds and tanzanite that are found in Tanzania Mainland are not classified as such.

Even more contentious is the list of matters reserved for the Union government.

The original 11 articles were, over time, increased, reaching 22 by 1990. To Zanzibaris, this is intended to undermine the autonomy and identity of Zanzibar.

Zanzibar complained about the sharing formula of revenues of 4.5 per cent for Zanzibar, which the Isles suggest be raised to 10 per cent.

The Union insists that is too high and would settle for 5 per cent.

Likewise, complaints persist that the Union government exclusively bears all costs of collecting revenue in Zanzibar (by the Tanzania Revenue Authority).

"In terms of resources, the people in Zanzibar pointed out that the mainland has minerals, national parks, agricultural land as compared with Zanzibar, which has limited resources..." says the report.

With regard to foreign aid they pointed out that although it is solicited and received in the name of the United Republic, Zanzibar receives little, or nothing in respect to non-Union matters such as agriculture.

It is the mainland that decides on behalf of Zanzibar how much it should get. Yet Zanzibar cannot shop for foreign aid for itself.

On their part, business people decried double taxation, saying that while the TRA has a presence in Zanzibar, once you re-export to the mainland, there is reassessment, harassment, delays in clearing the goods.

The structure of government has also been put under a microscope.

The bone of contention is that the Union deals with Union and non-Union matters lumped together.

Hence Zanzibaris feel that when a minister of the Union deals with issues affecting both entities, he is likely to favour the mainland. In short, there is a conflict of interest.

At the same time, budgetary allocations are bundled together for the Union government and Tanzania Mainland without any clear distinction.

It is for this reason that there has been a clamour for the establishment of a three-tier government consisting of the Union, Zanzibar and Tanzania Mainland.

This problem dramatically took centre stage in 1984 and led to the then president of Zanzibar, Aboud Jumbe, being forced to resign.

In regard to political and government institutions and processes, Zanzibaris stated that they are not considered a country, yet they are.

They pointed out that while the Union entails two countries, their president has no role.

They pointed to the inequity in the sharing of government offices within the Union. There are only three ambassadors from Zanzibar.

The ambassadors from the mainland work for the benefit of the mainland. Likewise, they point to the relatively few Zanzibaris serving in embassies abroad.

A Zanzibari is yet to serve as the Inspector General of Government.

n the army, all ranking generals are from the mainland. Most staff in the Tanzania Revenue Authority are said to be from the mainland too.

"In general, therefore, at the political level, many Zanzibaris do not think the Union is in their interest; they think that they have no say in the Union. They feel marginalised; they believe that, at the institutional level, they are not taken care of. They do not get to learn of opportunities or services offered by ministries dealing with Union matters since they do not maintain offices in Zanzibar," the mission observes in a report titled "Federation within Federation: The Tanzania Union Experience and the East African Integration Process."However, peace and security were pointed out as benefits of the Union.

From the mainland, there were complaints about the over-representation of Zanzibar in Union institutions, including parliament.

It was also pointed out that the portfolios for the mainland in government are virtually non-existent since there are people from Zanzibar holding portfolios for non-Union matters.

According to the mission, these issues were compounded by the unique structure of the Union: A two-government structure with a Union government and government of Zanzibar, but without a Tanganyika government. On the one hand, it was claimed that Zanzibar could not negotiate with the partner with whom they had executed the Union treaty with a view to modifying it as the need arose.

Revive Tanganyika

On the other, there were voices from the mainland calling for the revival of a Tanganyika government.

The dual mandate of the Union government, for instance, jurisdiction over Union matters, and over non-Union matters of the mainland created its own problems and suspicions.

"An attempt was made to design mechanisms to deal with the problems but these, including the Constitution Court, a Permanent Commission and many ad hoc ones appear to have been largely ineffectual; they always had to resort to the one-party structure to deal with the issues," the report observes.

"The transition to multiparty politics has made the latter approach to Union problems impractical. The transition has also brought in its wake, problems of electoral and post-electoral violence and claims of electoral fraud in Zanzibar. This has in turn highlighted the problems of the Union, and in particular the place of Zanzibar within the Union," it adds.

The incremental erosion of the powers of the government of Zanzibar is best illustrated by the 1977 merger of Tanganyika African National Union and Afro Shirazi Party.

This meant that matters that were entirely within the jurisdiction of Zanzibar were to be decided by a pan-territorial political party - Chama cha Mapinduzi.


In the political arena, two court cases were filed asking the High Court of Zanzibar to declare the Union null and void.

Other players have mooted the renegotiation of the Articles of Union to create a fully fledged federation.

The Articles of Union constitute the legal basis of the Union and for them to have effect, they should have been ratified by both Tanganyika and Zanzibar.

There is no evidence of any law in Zanzibar ratifying the treaty. The only evidence of ratification appeared in the Government of Tanganyika Gazette under the signature of the Solicitor General of the Tanganyika Government.

The Union, therefore, it is concluded by some, "lacked a legal basis right from the very beginning because while the Articles were signed by Karume they were not ratified. The Union therefore exists de facto, but not as a matter of law," the reports notes.

"Hence decisions were made on the basis of good will and political expediency rather than law and the constitution. The unification process was not constitutionalised; it was just a political agreement between Nyerere and Karume and even the Articles of Union came as an afterthought. They were formulated subsequent to the fact."

It was stated that some key figures in government do not understand the structure of the Union, for instance, the two governments and three jurisdictions.

This creates confusion which is compounded by the constitution itself.

It was pointed out that while Article 4 of the constitution does provide for the two governments with three jurisdictions other parts of the constitution mix up things and blur the distinction.

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