Mainland Opposition Blames Zanzibaris for National Woes, Union Structure Debated

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The Tanzania opposition political party has been hitting the political waves for all the wrong reasons, barricading its political campaigns with divisive, polarizing, and xenophobic utterances. The Mainland opposition is now blaming Zanzibaris for all the problems, real and imaginary, of Mainland Tanzania, formerly known as Tanganyika.

This article chronicles historical stances from both sides of the aisle on the status of the Union, why the opposition is so incensed with the union structure that erroneously claimed it has empowered Zanzibaris to roughshod Mainlanders jettisoning Tanganyika to pick up the garbage, and at the end, will conclude, as well.

Why is the Opposition Obsessed With the Union Structure?

In mainland Tanzania or Tanganyika, the union structure is seldom discussed unless someone from Zanzibar holds the presidency. During the tenure of the late President Hassan Mwinyi, Mainland CCM parliamentarians formed a group known as GG-55, advocating for three governments within the union structure.

The then-immediate president, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere, wrote a book, “UONGOZI WETU NA HATMA YA TANZANIA.” top-level Tanganyikans were pushed out. Those included the first vice president and prime minister, John Malecela, and the CCM secretary general, Horayce Kolimba, who is now deceased.

Prior to that, in Zanzibar, during the reign of President Aboud Jumbe, efforts to join the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (IOC) led to the purge that saw the then-first vice president and the Revolution Council President Aboud Jumbe resign. Nyerere termed the surreptitious incursions in Zanzibar as:..kuchafuka kwa hali ya hewa.” In both these instances, the threats to the national identity stoked the purges and political acrimony.

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After the creation of multiparty democracy in 1992, no CCM leader has trashed the union structure in public for fear of reprisals, and the opposition hastily hijacked that agenda. Life abhors a vacuum, which orchestrated the shifting of gears in matters of the union government towards a petty political project from our aimless opposition.

And, now under another administration, Samia Suluhu Hassan, running the union government, the opposition has resuscitated the umbrage of the union structure in a forlorn attempt to dissipate the legitimacy of her presidency. The opposition trolls the CCM policy of creating an enabling environment for international investors that flourished during the Mainland presidency of William Mkapa (1995-2005).

The opposition on the mainland has made baseless claims against Zanzibaris in the union government, implying that foreign policy decisions favour foreign investors because a Zanzibari holds the presidency. They concluded their argument on the union’s structure by highlighting an instance during President Mwinyi’s administration when Loliondo was allegedly given to a Sheikh from Dubai. This narrative suggests that another president continues the alleged sellout of Tanganyika lands.

What they do not say: except for the Nyerere regime, all subsequent administrations have issued land titles to foreigners, and my research did not see any critical attribute against the duo Zanzibari presidencies vis a vis the four Mainland presidents. In fact, the largest land expropriations were done during President Mkapa’s privatization policies. They were merely implementing the CCM election manifesto that stridently promoted foreign investment as the chief pillar of our development!

The efficacy of that policy was and still is an institutional realm, and hurling ad hominem to the late President Mkapa was and still is a misguided action of convenient amnesia save for personal failings.

Is the Union Structure the Real Issue?

I would like to point out that my understanding of what the opposition is griping about, though, sounds like Xenophobia, but the examples given indicate that they are uncomfortable. Tanganyika is losing her identity. Does Tanganyika really have one when even a national dress code is shunned, and if secured, will it be esteemed as a milestone?

The opposition in Mainland Tanzania and Isles are trigger-happy to point accusing fingers upon identity threats and offer variant proposals to fix their perceived anomalies. In both scenarios, a divorce is very much the main dish!

In Mainland Tanzania, the protagonists claim juicy government positions have been or are being taken by Zanzibari. Island’s opposition is not pricked by the consternation of their mainland counterparts within their camp, and they never support them.

For the Zanzibari opposition, look at the same issues Mainlanders are raising to make a case that a bigger neighbour is bribing their people to condone a total absorption of their tiny country. In most of their gripes, Zanzibari advocates for the Mainlanders to surrender their sovereignty to them.

One of the bellwethers from ACT Wazalendo said in one of their meetings, “unless….watanganyika watakubali kutupa mamlaka yao sisi hatuutaki huu muungano…” What he clamours for is nothing short of Zanzibar turning the Mainland as their neocolony, or in the alternative, the union ought to be disbanded forthwith. This Pemba acerbic politician, ironically, is nursing empathy to President Samia Suluhu Hassan, chirping that she is being unfairly targeted because she is Zanzibari.

The opposition, mostly from Pemba, does not agree with the Mainland opposition on matters of the union structure! Each side is pushing for a contrarian case of affairs. The Ungujan opposition is subdued and least likely to discuss the union’s structure.

Mainlanders in the opposition have raised a complaint of underrepresentation in the Union Parliament, and targets Zanzibar constituencies in comparison to union ones, quickly reaching a biased conclusion that Mainlanders are underrepresented in the Parliament despite having over 64 million population against Zanzibari, which is less than a million. The Mainland opposition is angry when Zanzibari heads non-union institutions and openly say

Tanganyika is robbed. The practice of rewarding CCM islander with plum posts in Mainland Tanganyika began with the first president, Nyerere, and nobody complained. Even when Mainland presidents do the same, the ire is rarely kept under the leash, but when a Zanzibari president does the same, he’ll always break loose! The issue is not Zanzibari on non-union dockets but who is patting them on the back. It is okay for one of their own to do it, but a stranger is an abomination.

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Opposition in the Mainland conveniently sidestepped women’s special seats in the union government and the Premier, who must be a Mainlander. If you include women’s special seats in the Union Parliament, the skewed representation argument is tampered with, but there are other considerations more significant than women’s special seats: Mainland uneven representation.

The Mainland opposition never questioned Dar es Salaam’s underrepresentation in the Union Parliament but focused on belittling Zanzibari. The opposition loves to cite figures showing one islander in the Union Parliament representing two thousand or fewer people while an average Mainland MP represents over six hundred people in their constituencies.

Most democratic countries like India or the US accept unfair representation on the grounds that democracy is not a game of numbers but the quality of those representations. While the opposition in Mainland confuses quality versus quantity, it still ambushes us with another deliberate feint of unwittingly being the agents of colonialism. I say so because deriding the lop-sided parliamentary representation without showing how you have been affected is silly and preposterous! Numbers without substance mean nothing. I must silently soliloquize.

Who Called us Tanganyikans?

The ruling party always reminds voters that the opposition is an agent of colonialism. There is no better issue than the opposition claiming ownership of Tanganyika, which places them in the CCM firepower. The opposition luminaries eagerly refer to themselves as: “…. sisi watanganyika tunadai nchi yetu…kwa sababu hata Zanzibar kwenye katiba yao wanasema wao ni nchi….” without seizing the bigger issues of who defined us in the territorial prisms?

Whose interests do we remain in smaller countries without a global voice? Equally important, why seek solace at the misguided actions of Zanzibar to justify your self-inflicted folly? We are better than copycats of absurdity!

Like the Palestinians, Zanzibari in Pemba has a larger bone to grind. The Palestinian’s ultimate purpose is a total eviction of Israel from their homage, and they live happily thereafter. The Pembans seek secession from Unguja after annihilating the union project that has survived almost six decades.

Interestingly, before demanding their own country, Pemba had little business transacting with mainlanders who stood before their grander plans of self-rule and emancipation. Sadly, as the majority Ungujans grandstand in their constitutional principle: “…Zanzibar ni nchi” little do they know they are capsizing into destructive forces from Pemba that will stop at nothing until they make sure that: ‘…. neither Tanzania nor Zanzibar is a nation but three nations of Tanganyika, Unguja and Pemba grappling with survival egos.”

For Ugunjans to live comfortably with their siblings from Pemba, a constitutional recognition that “Zanzibar siyo nchi” is all is needed. It is a pesticide that will perpetually keep the Pemba separatists and the “bête noire” quiet and in check to the delight of our jointly peaceful coexistence.

The author is a Development Administration specialist in Tanzania with over 30 years of practical experience, and has been penning down a number of articles in local printing and digital newspapers for some time now.

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