Chaos erupts in Zanzibar’s 2000 post General Election

CUF chairman Prof Ibrahim Lipumba addresses a press conference in the city about violence during political activities in the country. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • This came after the Zanzibar Electoral Commission announced that there would be a re-run of polls in 16 constituencies of Urban West Region, while CUF objected

Dar es Salaam. Millions of registered Zanzibaris turned up to cast their votes during the October 29, 2000 General Election to elect Zanzibar President and Members of the House of Representatives.

Presidential contestants in the eagerly awaited polls were Amani Abeid Karume, who was vying for the highest office on the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) ticket and Seif Shariff Hamad of the Civic United Front (CUF).

Unlike on the mainland, voters in Zanzibar had to cast five votes to elect President of Zanzibar, President of the United Republic, Members of Parliament, Members of the House of Representatives and councillors.

However, some people complained that there was a conspiracy to disrupt the polls after voting equipment, until 9pm, on the eve of the voting day had not been dispatched.

The situation resulted in a new political dispute in Zanzibar after CUF openly declared that they would not recognize the results of the General Election.

A report of the CUF leadership council, given by the deputy chairman of the party, Shabaan Mloo, said the polls were marred by many irregularities in almost all the constituencies of Zanzibar.

The report said CUF would not participate in the rerunning of the polls that were held on Sunday, November 5 in the constituencies of Urban West Region.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) alongside the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC)’s decided to hold fresh polls in the 16 constituencies of Urban West Region in Zanzibar.

“Since NEC is responsible for running presidential and parliamentary elections of the United Republic of Tanzania and since the voting was incomplete, NEC has decided to cancel the election results of 16 constituencies,” said NEC Chairman Judge Lewis Makame.

He explained that there was no need of rerunning the polls in all the constituencies of Zanzibar, because there were no complaints in some of them.

On November 2, being the third day after the polls, the presidential contender for the presidency of the United Republic on the CUF ticket, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, said he and his party would not recognize the president, who would be sworn in without the polls to be rerun in all the constituencies of Zanzibar.

“Without the polls being rerun in the whole Zanzibar, my party and I will also not recognize the president to be obtanined without the people’s consent because we will regard that particular president as a military ruler,” said Prof Lipumba at a press meeting.

At the press meeting held at the Tanzania Information Services Auditorium (Maelezo) in Dar es Salaam Region. Prof Lipumba also threatened that if their demands were not to be met, he would convince all the citizens in the country to accept that Tanzania had no president.

Donors, academics and international observers of the polls said that they totally disagreed with ZEC’s move of rerunning the polls in only 16 constituencies of Urban West Region.

The donors who stepped forward and maintained their stand were from the European Union (EU).

Academics from the University of Dar es Salaam met on Friday, November 3 to discuss about Zanzibar’s political situation.

The academics joined the stand of the EU and added that rerunning the polls in Urban West only was to invite dictatorship.

“The polls are marred in the whole of Zanzibar and due to that you cannot say the General Election has been held in only 16 constituencies and leaving out 34 others.

This is to pressure for a dictatorial rule which is not for the consent of the people...” said Prof Peter Maina from the Faculty of Law at the varsity.

“Things may be worse that 1995 as there will not be a reconciliation. People will stage a boycott as there will neither be political activities nor social development. It will be a disgrace to the nation.”

Prof Issa Shivji, also from the Faculty of Law at the same university said: “the situation would be worse than 1995” and might have ended in shedding blood.

The international observers, who left on November 3, maintained their stand that they would wish to hear the polls were rerun in all the constituencies of Zanzibar.

One day before the polls were rerun in Urban West Region following the controversial results of the October 29 General Election, hundreds of residents of Unguja were seen leaving with their families for Pemba and others for Dar es Salaam.

However, an investigation by a certain newspaper reported that many of those who left Zanzibar were women and children.

While that was happening, on November 7 ZEC chairman Abdulrahman Mwinyi Jumbe, announced at Bwawani Hotel in Zanzibar that Amani Abeid Karume was the new President of Zanzibar after winning by 67 percent of all votes cast.

Mwinyi said Karume who vied for the presidency on the CCM ticket had collected 248,095 votes and won over the CUF’s presidential contestant, Seif Sharif Hamad, who raked in 122,000 Votes.

He said a total of 379,790 votes were cast, whereby 9,695 votes were spoiled. At least 446,482 people registered to vote in the polls.

Mwinyi congratulated Karume on his victory as well as Seif Sharif Hamad on participating in vying for the presidency and called upon leaders of both CCM and CUF to cooperate with fellow citizens to build Zanzibar.

Speaking about strong criticism from the international observers over ZEC’s trend, Mwinyi, “ZEC has made a decision of rerunning the polls in Urban West Region because there is a need of doing so.

“ZEC received the requests of international observers, whom they invited with the purpose of observing the regularities of the polls and explaining how those elections were held but not giving instructions or exerting pressure on ZEC,” said Mwinyi.

The results of the rerun polls were announced while CUF maintained its stand on not recognizing them including the previous results of elections of membership of the House of Representatives and councillorship.

According to the announced results of the polls in all constituencies in Zanzibar, CCM scooped 29 seats in Unguja and five seats in Pemba, where CUF got 16 seats.

Supporters and members of CCM in Zanzibar celebrated the victory of their party while dancing and singing on the streets.

History will continue to show that the 2000 polls were marred by irregularities and controversy that resulted in chaos and demonstrations by CUF supporters and members who claimed to have been robbed of victory that was given to President Aman Abeid Karume and called for the rerun of the polls.

Huge chaos erupted in January 2001, forcing President Benjamin Mkapa to form an investigation team, led by Brigadier General Hashim Mbita, to probe into the chaos.

The probe revealed that at least 23 people lost their lives while taking to the streets by the CUF supporters and members, whereby for the first time Tanzania produced refugees, who fled to Kenya’s Mombasa Town and elsewhere to avoid the chaos.

Tomorrow we are going to focus on how the General Election of the United Republic was held.