Controversy surrounds 1995 Z’bar presidential poll results

Wednesday May 20 2020

Former Zanzibar President Salmin Amour at a

Former Zanzibar President Salmin Amour at a past event. Zanzibar electoral body declared him the winner of 1995 Zanzibar presidential polls in results that were full of confusion. Photo | file 

By William Shao @TheCitizenTZ news@tz.nationmedia.com

Dar es Salaam. Zanzibar’s General Election was held on October 22, 1995 and results announced on Thursday October 26 by the Zanzibar Electoral Commission. However, the results sparked a heated over who was actually the winner.

Even before ZEC announced who the winner was, some media houses declared Seif Shariff Hamad of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) as the winner of the position of president of Zanzibar.

For example, the Dar es Salaam Television (DTV) station cut in a movie show and announced that Seif Shariff Hamad of CUF had won.

In its news bulletin, DTV repeated to announce the victory of Seif Shariff Hamad saying he had scooped 164,568 votes against 155,787 of Dr Salmin Amour of CCM, and that the CUF victory for the position of the presidency was by a difference of a total of 8,781 votes.

However, some other media houses sought for more information about the issue which was already causing much confusion in the country. Some Zanzibar residents, who spoke on the phone at midnight to the media were quoted as saying that “...that is a dream, Seif cannot secure victory here.”

An investigation by Majira newspaper issued on October 25, 1995 revealed that there were some officials within ZEC, who had contributed to the confusion regarding poll results.

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The Kiswahili tabloid carried reports that ZEC officials, who happened to be CUF members, leaked information that was contrary to that given to the media by ZEC.

The form results that were released at midnight and quoted by DTV had headlines and statistics that were different from those in ZEC’s hands.

Previously, journalists were issued with forms headed: “The results of the Zanzibar presidential election ... 22-10-1995”. The forms also showed “district..., constituency..., total number of spoiled votes..., CUF votes..., percentage..., CCM votes..., percentage.”

However, on the eve of October 26, reporters from other media houses were issued with another set of forms whose content varied in both form and presentation and which showed that Seif was the winner.

Although some information on the forms for certain constituencies read the same, still there were differences in other constituencies.

For example, the first set of forms for Jang’ombe Constituency indicated that CUF had collected 4,905 votes while CCM garnered 7,471 votes, but a midnight report announced by a CUF staunch member showed that CUF had obtained 5,047 votes while CCM got 7,711 votes.

Another example of a constituency whose results were contradictory for the presidential election was Makadara as NEC indicated that CUF had collected 852 votes and CCM 2,541 votes.

However, Makadara’s presidential election results in the leaked form given by the CUF staunch member indicated that CUF got 817 votes while CCM (2,827).

For Malindi Constituency, ZEC’s form indicated that CUF won 2,741 votes and CCM (1,108) while the form of the CUF staunch member showed that CUF collected 2,821 votes and CCM (1,066).

However, Radio Tanzania Dar es Salaam (RTD), in its brief bulletin before closing its programs of the day, differed with DTV when it announced that the results of the position of president of Zanzibar “would be declared tomorrow”, meaning on October 26.

When the day came, ZEC Chairman Judge Zebeir Juma Mzee announced that the winner of the position of president of Zanzibar was Dr Salmin Amour of CCM who had collected 165,271 votes, equivalent to 50.2 percent.

Zanzibar’s electoral body went on to announce that Dr Amour’s opponent, Seif Sharif Hamad of CUF, got 163,271 votes, equivalent to 49.8 percent while 4,922 votes were spoiled. The difference was 1,565 votes.

Soon after the announcement, Unguja turned green and yellow as CCM members turned up on streets to celebrate waving party flag and carrying green and yellow decorated pictures of Dr Salmin.

Outside the ZEC Offices, reporters mobbed Zanzibar’s CCM Deputy Secretary General, Ali Ameir, wanting to know about a statement he had made two days earlier that the polls should be rerun because they were not free and fair.

However, Mr Ameir was rescued by Field Force Unit (FFU) officers who pushed aside the reporters to enable the former to enter his car saying “...ZEC is the one to make the final decision.”

Shortly after, Dr Salmin congratulated the reporters after being declared the winner, saying, however, that he should have liked to get a landslide victory. “...Victory is victory as points are not very important,” said Dr Salmin.

CUF announced that they would boycott the October 29 Union General Election because the Zanzibar General Election had not been well supervised and that its results were a sham.

“We believe that these results are not genuine. As CUF, we don’t recognise them at all,” said Seif Sheriff Hamad.

The following day, on October 27, two days before the October 29, 1995 General Election was held, CUF’s presidential contestant, Prof Ibrahim Lipumba, announced to back out of the presidential race.

Announcing his decision before reporters at Embassy Hotel in Dar es Salaam, Prof Lipumba said he saw no reason why he should continue to participate in the polls that he called to have been prepared by CCM so that only it could win.

Prof Lipumba made the decision shortly after his arrival from Zanzibar, where a special meeting of the CUF Central Committee had been held to evaluate the results of Zanzibar’s General Election.

Prof Lipumba, who was among the four presidential contestants for the Union presidency, was viewed by some analysts to be good at opposition political ranks during the polls.

On October 28, just a day before the General Election of the United Republic, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere advised the president-elect of Zanzibar, Dr Amour, to form a government of national unity with CUF.

Mwalimu Nyerere, speaking to reporters at Songea Airport at the end of his campaign for Benjamin Mkapa, who was contesting the presidency on CCM ticket, said if Dr Salmin would not incorporate CUF, then he would be forming the government of the people of Unguja instead of the Government of Zanzibar.

He argued that his worries were due to the results of the presidential election and the election results of members of the House of Representatives, whereby CUF scored a landslide victory on Pemba Island while CCM emerged the winner on Unguja Island.

The Father of the Nation said if CCM agreed with the real situation of the results of the polls and CUF agreed with the results, although the difference was not big, “if CCM agrees with victory although not big by asking CUF to incorporate them in government ... and if CUF disagrees, then CCM does not incorporate them, then that will not be the government of Zanzibar, but the government of Unguja.”

One day later, CCM said it had been shocked by its flimsy victory of the Zanzibar polls on both Pemba and Unguja islands.

On October 28, one day before the General Election of the United Republic, the chairman of CCM’s election campaign committee, Mr Abdulrahman Kinana, told reporters that CCM got a few votes in Zanzibar contrary to its expectations of getting 70 percent of victory in the polls.

“We did not expect to go down to such an extent. We are conducting research on this flimsy victory,” said Kinana.

However, Kinana congratulated CUF Deputy chairman Seif Shariff Hamad for agreeing to participate in the polls, saying the demonstrated political competition in Zanzibar had opened a new culture of political tolerance in the country.

On CUF’s threats about boycotting the October 29, 1995 polls, Mr Kinana said, “CUF’s boycott will not affect CCM at any rate”, but its own members (CUF) as they would lose their constitutional right of participating in choosing their national leaders.

On the polls that were to be held on the following day, Kinana said CCM was expected to win parliamentary seats at between 70 and 75 percent and the presidency at 90 percent.

However, a short while after being sworn-in as president of Zanzibar and chairman of the Revolutionary Council for another five year term, Dr Salmin appointed Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal Chief minister in accordance with the 1984 Constitution of Zanzibar.