National consensus on governance key, says Zanzibar VP

Diplomats,  government officials and other participants follow proceedings at the third Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad conference in Zanzibar yesterday. PHOTO | JESSE MIKOFU

What you need to know:

  • Othman made the remarks at the opening of the third Seif Sharif Hamad memorial conference, saying that there are many unanswered questions and that the conference should be used as an opportunity to discuss them.

Unguja. Zanzibar’s First Vice President, Othman Masoud, yesterday reiterated the need to reach a national consensus on politics, leadership, and the current state of governance.

Othman made the remarks at the opening of the third Seif Sharif Hamad memorial conference, saying that there are many unanswered questions and that the conference should be used as an opportunity to discuss them.

The conference, which was organised under the theme Politics, Leadership, and Governance: Where have we gone wrong and how can we correct our mistakes? brought together politicians from both sides of the political divide, religious leaders, and members of civil society organisations.

Mr Othman said that when the multi-party system was introduced, it was expected to bring about changes, but at times, the system has been seen as a form of hostility. “It would be good to discuss and ask ourselves whether there are national issues related to multi-party politics. Citizens should know that this system is not a battle field but a competition on how to shape the future of the nation,” he said.

He also said that it is important to look at how to ensure the rule of law and respect for the principles of democracy. In addition, Mr Othman said that there is a need to look at how to build strong institutions of justice and a government system that is committed to fighting corruption and the misuse of public property and power.

Mr Othman, who served as Zanzibar’s Attorney General until 2014, also said that there is a need to examine how the political system is causing injustice and to develop the poor so that everyone has equal opportunities.

“It would be good to look at the current system of preparing the current generations as a nation with unity and tolerance,” he said, adding:

“One thing that worries me is that our nation is in a period of transition, and many of our young people who are looking to enter politics and secure leadership positions were born in the 1970s, and many of them are looking for opportunities and not service.”

Mr Othman added: “These young people look forward to the time of elections; stealing of votes and fraud are not in the interests of the nation, so we all have to look at how to get out of where we are.”

According to him, this is not a good thing for the future of the nation, as strong national leadership is what gives direction to the nation.

Also present at the conference was the Second Vice President, Hemed Suleiman Abdulla, who said Maalim Seif’s contribution to the nation was great and that his vision was to develop the nation on the basis of equality and justice.

He said that Maalim’s vision can only be achieved if they continue to live in peace, unity, and love, and that love does not come without unity and unity will not exist without peace.

“I ask the people of Zanzibar to continue to uphold and cherish the vision of Maalim Seif by remaining united and loving. I have worked with Maalim, and I have seen that his vision was to build this nation,” he said.

Maalim Seif Foundation executive director Ismail Jussa Ladhu said that the past conferences have been of great benefit to the nation because of the discussions that have been taking place.

“This is the third conference; the first meeting was opened by President Samia Suluhu Hassan; her words are still alive today. The second conference discussed the education system and innovation, and we also saw how the government received our recommendations,” said Mr Jussa.

On his part, Mmusi Maimane, a prominent South African politician, said that politics and leadership in Africa are still facing a number of challenges, so there is a need for unity for the sake of serving the people.

“Our politics do not give us the right to separate according to our nature or ability, but rather to continue to recognise the importance of each one of us and to cooperate together,” he said.