Dar es Salaam. Attempts by Dr Salmin Amour to change the Constitution of Zanzibar so that he could be reelected president of Zanzibar, chairman of the Revolutionary Council and CCM vice chairman for the third time in year-2000 were reportedly made clandestinely.
Maskani members in Unguja, who branded themselves ‘Ukija Usiulize’ literally meaning ‘don’t ask when you come’ and who were also known as ‘Campaigners for President of Zanzibar’ - said Dr Amour was needed by Zanzibaris and would be chosen by Zanzibaris.
Dr Salmin’s proposal on changing the Zanzibar Constitution was presented at a special meeting of the party by the minister of State in the Chief Minister’s Office, Idd Pandu Hassan, who said the constitution should have been amended to enshrine the words “Anybody who is president can be reelected to hold the position.
”In their fax statement, the Maskani members said “Dr Amour was capable of leading Zanzibar and deserved respect from any president chosen by his people in free and fair polls.
“So, any person from outside Zanzibar whatsoever their positions or fields - are not concerned with the presidency of Zanzibar and Zanzibaris themselves.”
Clarifying on the proposal prepared by the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, CCM Deputy Secretary General in Zanzibar Hassan Mussa Takrima said: “
The limit of two consecutive five presidential terms was instituted under one political party system, whereby only one name was proposed for people to vote for YES or NO.
He went on: “People had no right of choosing one presidential contestant from among many. “In a multiparty political system, every political party had the right of nominating its presidential contestant.
”““So, people would have the opportunity and the right of electing one person to become president from among many presidential contestants, who were picked.
”Attending the 23rd anniversary of CCM on February 5, Dr Salmin said he was still strong and the proposed changes on the Constitution were important because “as the years went by, changes were necessary.
”Eight days later, a special meeting of CCM in Zanzibar was held to discuss, among other things, the proposed changes on the Zanzibar.
The meeting was held until the midnight of February 15, but Debate raged in and outside CCM after a proposal was made to change the Constitution and allow President A
There was no consensus. Therefore, the meeting had to be postponed to the following day following a fierce debate that resulted in two opposing groups over changes of the constitution.
The meeting was initially chaired by Chief Minister Dr Mohamed Bilal, before Dr Salmin took over for two days from February 14 to 15.
Things became worse, after some members demanded explanation why the proposal on changes of the constitution was presented by minister of State in the Chief Minister’s Office.
They argued that the presentation of the proposal should have followed the party procedures and that the minister was not supposed to present such an argument.
Some of the members, who were invited to the meeting included former president of the United Republic of Tanzania Ali Hassan Mwinyi and former minister of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar Hassan Nassoro Moyo.
The others were former Vice President of the United Republic Dr Omari Ali Juma, Ali Ameir Mohamed (minister for Home Affairs), Seif Khatib (minster of State in the Chief Minister’s Office), Dr Maua Daftari (Deputy minister for Communication and Transport) and Absalaam Issa Khatib (Finance Deputy minister).
Arguments cropped up in the meeting about some members who were not supposed to attend the meeting including retired president Ali Hassan Mwinyi; Union Deputy president Dr Omar Ali Juma and CCM secretary general Philip Mangula.
The storm continued the following day after some CCM elders from Pemba and from several villages in Unguja were denied entry into the meeting because they were not eligible to attend it.
The discussions entered the third day after some members rejected the proposal that was seen to have been initiated by Dr Salmin’s side.
However, CCM Secretary General Philip Mangula defend-ed himself by saying that he was supposed to attend the meeting so that he could have a good opportunity of reporting well to the party’s NEC that blessed the meeting.
As the discussions continued, a draft on Zanzibar’s constitutional changes was eagerly being awaited .Among the articles of the Zanzibar 1984 Constitution that were targeted for change included article 30 (1) (b) that stipulated that:
“A person will not be eligible to be elected president if he has held the position of the presidency for a consecutive two presidential terms that have ended.”
Although NEC met in Dodo-ma early in 2000 to allow CCM in Zanzibar to deliberate on the matter of changing the constitution, CCM on the mainland vividly showed that they were not ready to see the Zanzibar Constitution being changed in the interests of one person.
Already 52 CCM MPs had written a letter to Dr Salmin, calling upon him to drop his plan. However, the letter was slammed by other 28 members of CCM Zanzibar.
On February 17 the meeting that had 74 members decided to forward the matter to the Central Committee of the NEC after failing to reach an agreement.
It was decided that if the CC had also failed to reach an agreement, the matter would have been handled by NEC.
On February 18 it was revealed that three rich persons in Zanzibar, in their own interests, were the ones, who exerted pressure on the aborted change of the Zanzibar Constitution so that Dr Salmin could continue to remain in power without a limit provided he was being reelected.
Former law lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe (now minister), said the action of Dr Salmin to become the chairman of the meeting aimed at sup-pressing democratic space.
“To allow an accused person to lead a panel of judges in his own case as I did not see any reason for Dr Salmin to be the chairman of the meeting in which he had his own interests,” said Dr Mwakyembe.
On February 19, some members of the House of Reps, who were against Zanzibar’s Constitutional changes, had to send some people to different regions of Tanzania mainland to convince members of the CCM National Executive Committee (NEC) to reject the leadership extension proposal by Dr Salmin.
Among those MPs, who wrote a letter to Dr Salmin included some NEC members and one member from the party’s CC, Juma Ngasongwa, who was the Ulanga West MP.
Their letter was signed by Mufindi MP Joseph Mungai. As the MPs were preparing to ensure the proposal did not sail through, there were reports that the Zanzibar Revolutionary Government had prepared its special team to convince the party NEC members to also make sure the proposal was okayed.
Under the carpet campaigns were launched after members of a special committee of CCM Zanzibar agreed to disagree with the rejection of the proposal and decided to forward the matter to the party’s NEC.
The meeting had to be held for consecutive four days at the CCM’s Kisiwandui office in Zanzibar following fierce arguments between those who supported the changes and those who were against them.
Although there were reports that many members of the meeting were for the constitutional changes, there were those who opposed them, claiming that Zanzibar would have back-pedaled in the area of democracy.
After the fierce debate in the meeting, it was decided, in the end, that the party’s NEC was the final organ to make a decision about agreeing with the constitutional changes or not.
Tomorrow, we are going to focus on how NEC ended Dr Salmin Amour’s struggle to change the Zanzibar Constitution so that he could seek reelection of the Zanzibar presidency for the third term of five years.