59th Revolution Anniversary: Pundits extol major strides

AS Zanzibaris marked 59th Anniversary of the Zanzibar Revolution on Thursday, a cross-section of commentators heaped praises on successive post-revolution governments in the isles for putting in place enabling policies which have steered socio-economic development for the majority of the people.

Since the Indian Ocean semi-autonomous archipelagos got rid of the rule of Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah on January 12, 1964, there has been noticeable achievements in provision of social services for majority of native Zanzibaris unlike in the past where such services were reserved for the elite ruling class and their accomplices.

Speaking in a telephone interview with the ‘Daily News’, former economic adviser of President Amani Abeid Karume during Zanzibar’s sixth phase government, Prof Humphrey Moshi, said a lot has been achieved after the revolution.

“There has been significant improvement in infrastructure and decent housing projects for the majority of Zanzibaris.

“Provision of social services such as education, water and health services has also been expanded to cover many people compared to the situation before the revolution,” Prof Moshi, who currently serves as a lecturer of economics at the University of  Dar es Salaam (UDSM), explained.

The economist noted further that through collaboration with Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar through the Zanzibar Revenue Board (ZRB)has been able to increase revenue collections in the isles.

Prof Moshi pointed further that successive governments in the islands have made significant strides in diversifying the tourism sector as a leading earner of foreign exchange.

“Many hotels have been constructed through joint ventures between foreigners and locals and this has enabled the government to retain some of the profits which are generated from the hospitality industry,” he observed.

For his part, Zanzibar’s Minister for Tourism and Heritage, Mr Simai Mohamed Said, noted that despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the tourism sector in Zanzibar has shown an impressive growth both in terms of supply and demand.

“When many countries were in lockdown due to the pandemic, Zanzibar was the only island destination which was opened to tourism.

“During that time we managed to attract tourists from new markets in East Europe such as Russia, Ukraine and Poland as well as Middle East, West Africa and South Africa,” Mr Simai explained during a telephone interview.

The minister explained that the continuation of tourism activities during the pandemic created positive publicity for the island and attracted tourists who were eager to travel at the time when their countries were in lockdowns.

He, however, admitted that the number of backpackers visiting the islands dwindled to about 250,000 during the pandemic, down from over 500,000 tourists who visited Zanzibar before the pandemic.

“The good news is that, the number of tourists has started picking up after the pandemic and we hope to register more since many countries have lifted the lockdowns and people are now free to travel to any place in the world,” he noted.

The minister went on to note that a number of strategic actions have been set and implemented by the Revolutionary Government of  Zanzibar to improve the tourism sector after the Covid-19 pandemic.

He mentioned some of the strategies as diversifying and improving tourism products to focus more on culture and heritage, sports and adventure tourism as well as blue and eco-tourism in addition to meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.

“The government is also working to enhance the quality of tourism products by focusing more on ‘low impact/high quality tourism’ including attracting more high end investments in accommodation but also supporting services.

“The enhancement also includes rehabilitating historical sites, upgrading spice farms as part of agro-tourism, rehabilitating buildings in Stone Town and construction of a new airport terminal with an international ground handler,” he explained.

Mr Simai mentioned another measure as the introduction of ‘Digital Tourism Services’ to ease the travel experience in Zanzibar.

Prof Mohamed Hafidh Halfan, an economist based in Zanzibar, hailed improvement of both surface, marine and air transport in Zanzibar after the revolution.

Prof Halfan attributed the successes achieved in the transport sector to conducive policies for investment which have attracted the private sector to actively participate in transportation and other sectors of the economy.

“What is more, the revolution has made the people of  Zanzibar to build cohesion amongst themselves and this is very important for development,” he remarked.

Prof Halfan noted further that it is through the unity of  Zanzibaris that the union between Zanzibar and Tanzania Mainland has continued to prevail 59 years after it was ushered in.

Addressing the nation on the eve of the 59th Zanzibar Revolution Anniversary, Zanzibar President Dr Hussein Mwinyi touted major strides achieved in the improvement of social services citing further as health, education, energy and access to clean and safe water within the country.

“A total of 10 new district schools and a regional school have been constructed within the Urban-West Region along with the improvement of health service delivery in hospitals and health centres,” said Dr Mwinyi.

Equally, he noted the initiatives taken to improve quality health service delivery in the facilities including the installation of state-of-the-art medical equipment and continue with the construction of a regional hospital at Lumumba in the Urban-West region.

Dr Mwinyi revealed further that the government’s ambitious plan of erecting a referral hospital in the Binguni area Unguja South Region was in a good position, hinting at their intention to embark on major rehabilitation at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital, which includes constructing new buildings in strengthening further service delivery.

In further improving the medical services, the government in recent days employed 815 medical staff comprising 38 positions for specialised doctors from various cadres in the health sector.

As for the education sector, he said major efforts have been undertaken to improve the sector considering its importance in promoting the well-being of individual citizens in the country.

Besides, in reducing student congestion in classes and improving both the teaching and learning environment, in the past year, the government constructed nine new storey buildings in Unguja and Pemba along with 811 classes, including those executed through people-centered initiatives.

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