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Now keep your pledge, Mwinyi, Seif challenged

Wednesday December 09 2020
Mwinyi puic

Zanzibar President Hussein Mwinyi congratulates Mr Seif Sharif Hamad after swearing him as First Vice President at State House in Zanzibar yesterday. PHOTO | ZANZIBAR STATE HOUSE

Dar es Salaam. Zanzibar President Hussein Mwinyi and ACT-Wazalendo chairman Seif Sharif Hamad reconciliatory gesture yesterday has been largely well received but political analysts said the two leaders will stand to be counted on delivery of their promise to unite and heal the country from its ugly past.

Mr Hamad’s swearing in as the First Vice President brought out a mix of emotions as Tanzanians poured their heart out over its significance even as the formation of the Government of National Unity finally took shape following weeks of anxiety and uncertainty.

President Mwinyi and Mr Hamad speeches at the function weighed in on the huge task on their shoulders, seeking to reassure the public and respective bases of their commitment to change the course of the Isles for the better.

However, analysts said the two leaders must be ready to walk the talk to actualise the vision they were promising Zanzibaris. The GNU is a good start, they argued, but how they respond to the challenges ahead would be the real test.

Commendations were quick coming, with the US ambassador Donald Wright welcoming the decision by the two leaders to chose engagement over animosity. “Now the real work begins as the Government of National Unity comes together to heal wounds of the past while charting a brighter future for all Zanzibaris,’ tweeted the US envoy shortly after the swearing in ceremony.

Dr Wright’s endorsement of the Zanzibar GNU is a significant development signaling the US approval since the disputed 2015 elections and the repeat 2016 elections which were boycotted by the main opposition. Other commentators proposed some improvement to the constitution and laws to bind the unity of Zanzibaris.

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President Mwinyi and Mr Hamad signalled a new beginning when they spoke highly of the need to reconcile Zanzibaris after divisions brought about by the October General Election.

The two were speaking during a function to swear in Mr Hamad as Zanzibar’s First Vice President in line with the Isles’ constitution.

The two stressed the need for reconciliation in Zanzibar during a function to swear in Mr Hamad as Zanzibar’s First Vice President in line with the Isles’ constitution.

“Just as I said during my swearing-in ceremony, I promise to live up to the reconciliation requirement and that is why I have appointed the First Vice President and also two legislators from the opposition,” said President Mwinyi who secured 76.27 percent of the votes in the election that the opposition later said was rigged.

He said while the GNU basically brings together leaders from two rival political parties, the success of a government run under such an arrangement was in leaders’ show of intent and desire to implement what they have agreed under the reconciliation. Both parties, he said, must make a solid decision to endure and tolerate each other’s shortcomings while also forgetting the past ills.

They, he said, must also build mutual trust and work towards uniting their people.

In his remarks, Mr Hamad said the ACT-Wazalendo decided to join the GNU after a thorough analysis of utterances by President Mwinyi.

“It is our trust in your words, actions and signs that we decided to join the GNU. You have shown us that you have the intention to help Zanzibar out of the stalemate,” said Mr Hamad who garnered 19.87 per cent of the votes.

He said the GNU was meant to heal the wounds among Zanzibaris and not as tool for sharing positions and titles.

He likened the GNU to a vessel that sought to move Zanzibaris from one state of condition to the other.

“It could be by land, air or sea. For someone travelling, the goal is not to be in the vessel but rather to reach their destination,” he said.

He said the GNU was meant to wipe out divisive politics and elections that resulted into killings and divisions of people of Zanzibar, noting however that the conduct of the 2020 General Election brought Zanzibaris back to the pre-reconciliation era.

“It left us with even more killings….This is shameful and a black spot on our country’s history which we must take serious measures to deal with for the general good of our people,” he said.

Analysts who spoke to The Citizen said the two leaders have exhibited a desire to heal political wounds in the Isles, noting however that much more needed to be done to realise the dream.

“The current structure seems to give one party more power than the other, so Maalim Seif and President Mwinyi have to make sure they review the laws and make changes that would make both parties more comfortable under the GNU arrangement,” said a University of Dar es Salaam Political Science don, Prof Mohammed Bakari.

He said for a complete reconciliation, some adjustments into Zanzibar’s mother law would also have to touch of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania so as to make the two leaders’ desires realistic.

Prof Haji Semboja of the State University of Zanzibar said that the creation of the GNU must be supported because it shows that both leaders have the same intention to bring development for the people.

“Maalim Seif now will cease to be an ‘opposition’ because he is now the senior advisor to the President and he is taking part in the state administration,” he said.

Prof Semboja said with the seniority of Maalim Seif and his political experience would be a greater value to the government in supporting President Mwinyi who is younger.

Prof Abdul Sharif said the formation of the GNU gives the opposition party chance to engage its partner in government, CCM, on how to deal with issues of human rights which his party has highlighted during the just ended elections.

He said both President Mwinyi and Mr Hamad have shown interest in reconciling Zanzibaris and therefore, the GNU gives them a chance to work together and highlight the ills that must be worked on for the general good of a united Zanzibar.

“What matters is the extent to which both President Mwinyi and Mr Hamad want to take the reconciliation agenda to. If they really want to end animosity among Zanzibaris, the we could expect them to work on such claims of human rights violation as those allegedly committed by Zanzibar’s special forces as well as reconstituting the Zanzibar Electoral Commission,” said Prof Sharif who formerly taught history at the University of Dar es Salaam.

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