Sunday, August 22, 2010

Peace and unity in the Isles should not come at the expense of the Union

According to referendum results released on Sunday 1st August 2010, Zanzibar, has opted to enshrine power sharing in the constitution to end decades of crippling political feuds. “Two thirds of the semi autonomous Tanzanian territory's voters approved the idea of a coalition government being formed after the upcoming October 31 polls, the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) announced”.

The "yes" vote, supported by both the ruling CCM and the opposition CUF parties, mustered 66.4 percent while the "no" vote took 33.4 percent in the referendum held on Saturday.
"With these results, there is no loser and there is no winner. Let us believe that we have all won," ZEC chairperson Khatib Mwinyichande said.

The referendum bring an amendment to the constitution of Zanzibar, the Constitution redefined its territory as a sovereign state within the United Republic of Tanzania, have reignited the controversy over the future of the Union.
According to the amendments, Article 1 and 2 of the Zanzibar Constitution, which previously identified Zanzibar as part of the United Republic of Tanzania, have been deleted. The changes redefine Zanzibar is a state formerly known as the 'People's Republic of Zanzibar' with its territory composed of Unguja, Pemba and all the small surrounding islands, as it was before the 1964 merger with Tanganyika.
The new clause stipulates that Zanzibar is among the two countries that form the United Republic of Tanzania.

The Constitution of the United Republic proclaiming Tanzania to be a country resulting from the merger of Tanganyika and Zanzibar, as the one and only sovereign state, I am of the opinion that the recognition of Zanzibar as a state would "steal Tanzania's statehood". And I see that the amendment of the constitution indicates the break-up of the United Republic of Tanzania.
This article of the Constitution cannot be altered by Zanzibar House of Representatives alone. They have totally no mandate or authority on this issue. The House of Representatives had disregarded the laid-down procedure by altering constitutional provisions touching on the Articles of the Union.

Article 98 (b) of the Union Constitution states
Any Bill for an Act to alter any provisions of the Constitution or any provision of any law relating to any of the matters specified in List Two of the second schedule to the Constitution shall be passed only if it is supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all Members of Parliament from Tanzania Mainland and not less than two-thirds of all MPs from Tanzania Zanzibar.

Declaring Zanzibar as one of the two countries that form the United Republic of Tanzania was to change the structure of the Union to form a co federal authority between the people of Zanzibar and Tanganyika. This means that Tanganyika retains its sovereignty and statehood and so does Zanzibar. So you form a confederation. The statehood automatically moves out of that the United Republic of Tanzania and goes to Zanzibar and Tanganyika.
If the amendments are implemented there is not going to be a united republic of Tanzania. The nation has broken up.
Though I strongly support the reconciliation process that had culminated in the constitutional changes, the declaration that Zanzibar is a state has gone beyond the aim of bringing Zanzibaris together. Though it was crucial to bring about peace and unity in the Isles, this should not come at the expense of the Union; Zanzibar is a part of the United Republic of Tanzania.
Written by Magreth Makinge YET 2010

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