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What analysts say about Zanzibar’s new First Vice President Othman

Tuesday March 02 2021
Othman pic

Zanzibar’s First Vice President Othman Masoud Othman.

By Louis Kalumbia

Dar es Salaam. Political party leaders and commentators yesterday described the new Zanzibar’s First Vice President Othman Masoud Othman as the right person to succeed the veteran politician Seif Sharrif Hamad in pushing for sustained unity, consensus and people-centred development in the Isles.

They attributed his expertise in the legal fraternity, his position on various issues, love to the Isles and experience in the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar (RGZ) as key issues making him the right candidate for post.

They were reacting on the appointment of Mr Othman as Zanzibar’s Vice President replacing Seif Sharrif Hamad who died on February 17, 2021.

His body was laid to rest the following day in Pemba.

Article 40 (1) of the Zanzibar Constitution 1984 as revised in 2010 requires that in case the First or Second Vice President dies, the successor would be picked within 14 days.

A statement from the State House in the Isles released yesterday says that the appointment of Mr Othman, who is a member of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo, was in accordance with Article 9 (3) of the Zanzibar Constitution which requires the President to maintain the spirit of the Government of National Unity (GNU).

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“And following powers vested in him through Article 39(4) of the Zanzibar Constitution of 1984 and after consultations with ACT-Wazalendo, the President of Zanzibar and chairman of the Revolutionary Council, Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi, has appointed Mr Othman Masoud Othman Sharif to be the First Vice President,” reads part of the press statement.

Yesterday, the CCM deputy secretary general for Zanzibar, Dr Abdalla Juma Mabodi, commended President Mwinyi for appointing Mr Othman to succeed Hamad saying the ruling party expected the appointee to emulate the fallen leader’s cooperation in serving the government.

“He is a professional and humble person. My hope is that he will cooperate with the President in supporting what have been planned in bringing development to Zanzibar,” he said assuring him support from the ruling party.

ACT-Wazalendo secretary general Ado Shaibu said Mr Othman was nominated in order to win hearts of the Zanzibaris, that of ACT-Wazalendo members and the general public something Mr Hamad did.

“Zanzibar is really going to benefit with the appointment of Mr Othman who is the most trusted leader in the legal fraternity and highly respected person across the world as well as his collaboration with President Mwinyi in transforming the Isles,” he said.

He said during the process to pick name of Mr Hamad’s successor they developed about 16 qualifications for the party member or cadre to be nominated including integrity, love for the Zanzibar, outstanding position, flexibility, reconciliation advocacy, acceptability among the people of Zanzibar and the capability to follow Mr Hamad’s footsteps.

“A long list of members had to be put on the balance, some of them were widely discussed including Mr Othman himself, Juma Duni Haji, Mansour Yusuf Himid, Nassor Ahmed Mazrui, Ismail Jussa Ladhu, Fatma Abdulhabib Fereji, lawyer Awadh Ali Said and many others,” he said, adding.

“It was later decided that Mr Othman had more qualifications out of the 16, therefore, he was nominated for the position.”

A political science lecturer at the State University of Zanzibar (Suza) Prof Ali Makame Ussi said the appointment of Mr Othman protected the Zanzibar Constitution that had established the Government of National Unity (GNU).

He said his experience, stewardship in top government positions as well as better understanding of the Isles made him the best candidate for the position.

“However, Mr Othman remains the same person who displayed great love to the Isles, who is accepted and a capable person.

“He served as the Zanzibar Attorney General (AG), the Director of Public Prosecutor (DPP) and other positions that require someone with higher levels of administration expertise,” he said.

He added, “Hopefully, he will deliver expectations of the Zanzibaris because he is young who can cope with environment though he cannot resemble Mr Hamad in certain aspects, but he can perfectly execute all other administrative issues.”

Furthermore, he described Mr Othman as a focused, visionary, dull and a person who take proper decisions in executing all planned issues required in restoring unity, supervising government issues, referring him as the best person in administration and execution.

The former University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) don, Prof Abdul Sherrif said Mr Othman was a guru in the law fraternity who shares visions with the late Hamad especially on the significance of the GNU, consensus, three tier government and provision of the new United Republic of Tanzania Constitution. “He worked with ex-President Ali Mohamed Shein during which he didn’t get threatened to make decisions basing on what he believed. Hopefully, he will not be intimidated to take tough decisions to protect the GNU, consensus and bring development to Zanzibar,” he said.

According to him, his decision during the new Constitution Assembly in Dodoma that led to the sacking as the Zanzibar AG by the-then President Shein proves that his position was firm on the issues he believes.

Prof Sheriff was echoed by a political analyst; Mr Buberwa Kaiza said Mr Othman’s credibility lies on the sacking incident that he wasn’t a person who can easily compromise and sabotage citizens for personal gain.

“He remained firm with the agreement made before leaving Zanzibar on the structure of the government. This is the main qualifications that differentiate him and other Zanzibar politicians,” he said.

According to him, Mr Othman was therefore an appropriate candidate for the post who will make strengthen the RGZ and turn ACT-Wazalendo a more competent political party in the country.

“He is capable, experienced and professional which are among the most important qualifications for the person required to lead Zanzibaris under the recent situation,” he said.

In the 2020 General Election, Mr Hamad contested for the Zanzibar presidency for the sixth consecutive year and trailed behind Dr Mwinyi in disputed elections, however he left a legacy of reconciliation and unity after spearheading for the GNU.

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