January 26-27 Zanzibar killings tarnish Mkapa’s record


Tensions rose as neither the government nor the Opposition CUF was ready to bulge and negotiate peacefully. January 26 and 27, 2001 produced the country’s first-ever refugees

Dar es Salaam. On October 29, 2000, Tanzania held its second multiparty elections. In Zanzibar, members and supporters of CUF claimed the polls had been rigged to enable the ruling party CCM to win.

On November 10, 2000, after the opposition CUF had refused to recognize the poll results, it gave the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar 90 days to hold fresh polls in all the constituencies - failure of which it would take unspecified action. The deadline of the ultimatum was February 8, 2001.

In his address on December 31, 2000 to welcome the New Year, Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume said the time of debate about politics was over.

On Thursday, January 2, 2001 CUF expressed its 2001 New Year greetings while vowing not to hold talks with neither the Government of Zanzibar nor the Union Government over Zanzibar’s political situation.

CUF spokesman Said Miraj said since their stand was not to recognize both governments, holding talks with either of the two would amount to betraying what they stood for.

“We’re not ready to meet with either of the two governments for talks … may be our parties can do so and there should be one agenda about how we can rerun Zanzibar’s polls,” said Miraj.

“We are sending our message to CUF members, supporters and all the peace-loving people of Tanzania… that there is no retreat. It’s either we get our rights or death. The 90-day deadline that we gave is about to expire within the 2001 New Year that starts with no.

1 - and we start with gear no. 1 for our issues. The elections must be rerun this year in Zanzibar,” said Miraji, insisting that the CUF of that year could not be compared to that of 1992.

On January 11, thousands of Zanzibaris from Pemba started leaving the island for what was claimed fear for their lives.

On January 15, CCM said the efforts that were being made by a member of the party’s Central Committee, Judge Joseph Warioba, to solve the dispute lacked its blessings.

CCM deputy chairman (Mainland) John Malecela, was quoted as saying: “What I know in CCM at CC and NEC levels is that we have never talked that we want to be reconciled with CUF.”

On January 17, CUF declared about staging demonstrations and holding public meetings across the country on the January 27 of the year.

CUF Zanzibar Deputy Secretary General Juma Duni Haji told reporters in Dar es Salaam that their decision of staging demonstrations countrywide was reached at the party’s executive committee’s meeting held earlier in the week. “Demonstrations and meetings, which are to take place on the Mainland and Zanzibar will be peaceful as we are going to observe the country’s laws and regulations.

“They are not aimed at causing chaos as CCM and its Government propagate. So, we call upon those who are to turn up on the day not to carry any weapon with them or anything that will signify a breach of peace and tranquility,” said Duni.

On January 21, CUF Chair-man Prof Ibrahim Lipumba said the demonstrations by his party members and supporters were scheduled for January 27 and called upon them not to be fear-ful of threats given by the Police.

“We know very well that when we engage in struggles there are also consequences. This means there will be those to be injured. Those who are to die and those, who are to be arrested.

“That is the result of the work of democracy... and as you know these people are oppressive. They don’t care about killing people. So, we must not be cowards.

We need to be courageous and fight, no matter what will happen,” said Prof Lipumba.

By January 24, tension was high among citizens not know-ing what would happen on January 27.

Police statement banning demonstrations added to the heat, this was even as CUF leaders insisted that the demonstrations would be staged “come what may”.

On Thursday, January 25, two days before CUF had staged the demonstrations, Prof Lipumba, together with other members and supporters of the party, were arrested by police, who had stopped a meeting by Kigamboni MP Frank Magoba.

The meeting was to be held at Mbagala Zakheem. Despite Lipumba’s arrest, the leaders of the party maintained their stand of staging the demonstrations.

Dar es Salaam Regional Com-missioner Yusuf Makamba convened a press meeting and called upon residents not to take part in the demonstrations.

“Any person, who has planned to participate in these demonstrations, which we have banned, should not blame us for whatever that will happen to them,” warned Makamba.

While in Arusha, Judge Warioba said there was every sign that the dispute between the Government and CUF would place the country in a bad situation. “Trading words is very dangerous.

I have communicated with all of them (CUF) yesterday (January 24). I have also communicated with the government, which I have asked to do whatever it can to allow and watch the demonstrations to avoid effects on people and damages to their properties. I have not received any response,” said Warioba.

On January 26, a day before CUF’s planned demonstrations, two people died on the spot and several others injured in the chaos that erupted at Mtendeni in Zanzibar.

The chaos was between the police and CUF members and supporters.

The unrest erupted at 1:30pm after the CUF members and sup-porters had held Friday Prayers at Mwembetanga Mosque near CUF head office in Zanzibar.

Shortly after the prayers, the members and supporters, num-bering 40, gathered outside the mosque for secret talks, a situation that alarmed nearby police, who ordered them to disperse.They defied the order. The police had to confront them.

The CUF members and supporters started hurling stones at the law enforcers, who were forced to retaliate. It was claimed that the party members carried stones and machetes with them.

The police fired several shots that hit three people, two of whom died instantly. One of the killed victims was identified as Juma Mohamed Khamisi, 40: a resident of Mwembetanga.

The wounded victim, whose right leg was later amputated, was identified as Seif Juma Said, a resident of Sebuleni.

Despite the killings, CUF maintained their stand of going to the streets on the next day of January 27.

January 27, 2001 thousands came out in the streets of Zanzibar. The confrontations lead to the death of several people.

However, various sources give different death tolls. A book titled From Promise to Practice: Strengthening UN Capacities for the Prevention of Violent Conflict on page 130, puts the toll at 23.

Another book, A Political Chronology of Africa (page 428) says, “It is estimated that the number of those killed is 37.” Writer Kennedy Agade Mkutu, on page 112 of his book Security Governance in East Africa: Pictures of Policing from the Ground,’ says:

“In January 2001, chaos erupted in Pemba caused by the post-2000 General Election ... at least 35 people were killed and about 2,000 residents fled Pemba to Mombasa.”

Another author, Frans Jozef Servaas Wijsen, on page 21 of his book Seeds of Conflict: Religious Tensions in Tanzania, says, “During the dem-onstrations of 26 January, 22 people were killed.

The follow-ing day, seven other people were shot dead.” Two writers, Joseph Oloka-Onyango and Maria Nassali, wrote in their book Constitutionalism and Political Stability in Zanzibar published in 2003 wrote:

“According to the Mbita probe team, 30 people were dead, but others estimate that the number of killings reached 60.

“The killings were followed by two weeks of beating people, arbitrary arrests - and every kind of threats were made...”On Thursday, February 8 was the deadline of the 90 days given by CUF. On the day police officers were deployed in the streets of both Unguja and Pemba.

The January 26-27 killings put a dark spot in the record of Presi-dent Benjamin Mkapa. He had to form an eight-member inquiry on team January 16, 2002.

The probe was tasked to inves-tigate the killings and give its proposals to the government about what steps to be taken to rectify the situation and avoid recur-rences of such incidents.

The probe, which was also required to present its findings and pro-posals by July 2002, was led by retired Brig Gen Hashim Mbita.

Brig Gen Mbita presented his report to President Mkapa on November 4, 2002 and that report was made public on November 24, the same year. According to the report, the victims of the killings numbered between 27 and 35.

However, the Hashim Mbita inquiry revealed that one of the motives behind the Zanzibar killings, particularly in Pemba, was that the Cloves Isles had been economically sidelined.