Whither Zanzibar? Struggle for Democracy



In January 1988, Seif Sharif Hamad, along with six other government officials, was dismissed as Chief Minister of Zanzibar allegedly for ‘plotting’ against the government. The seven, though not charged in a court of law, were soon thereafter expelled from the ruling party – CCM. This was followed by a number of measures by the government of Tanzania to restrict freedom of speech and association for those Zanzibaris who sought greater political autonomy for the island.

As a logical consequence the next couple of the years witnessed the formation of a clandestine movement and a voice calling out for a referendum on the Union between Zanzibar and Tanganyika. While steadily growing in their intensity and influence, the movement sent letters to the then CCM Chairman, Julius Nyerere, President Ali Hassan Mwinyi and to the then president of Zanzibar, Idrisa Abdul Wakil, demanding their god-given basic rights of democracy and self-determination in its most direct form – a referendum. They also issued a legally well argued document, “The Case for a Referendum” signed by a good cross-section of the people from all the regions of Zanzibar. However, this request was turned down and the leaders detained.

In 1991, a pressure group for democratization – KAMAHURU – was formed. Led by a veteran politician, Shaaban Mloo, it campaigned for the restoration of multi-party democracy in Zanzibar. Responding to the over-whelming pressure from such home-grown groups and international donor countries, the CCM government had no alternative but to relent – and consequently a blue-print for the eventual multi-party democracy for the countries was re-introduced.

(WITHER ZANZIBAR?), A 1993 Publication by the CUF Department of Information and Publicity dedicated to the Peoples of Zanzibar in their Struggle for Democracy



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