- Says Union vexes cannot disqualify the validity of the system
- Believes three-tier system impractical, lacking justification
THE Union between the former Tanganyika and the Republic of Zanzibar, which formed the United Republic of Tanzania is continuing to grow strong, over six decades on.
And, for the former Zanzibar’s Second Vice-President Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi, this unique Union will continue to remain strong, while providing social, political and economic benefits for the people of the two sides.
Tanzania stands out as the only country in Africa, which was formed as a union of two independent states. No other union has been consummated on the entire continent because unity is simply hard on to earn.
One way to describe it all is that the Union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar is unique to the world, where everyone feels at home wherever one goes. Tribalism has not been such a major problem in Tanzania. There are various factors that contributed to that unique nature of the union and culture is one of them. People from both sides of the Union share the common culture in a firm grip of Kiswahili language among others.
However, the question of the structure of the Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar emerges from time-to-time, particularly when people debate about contentious issues in the Union and during the constitution making process.
The debate on the structure of the Union has been around a one government system, two governments system, three governments system and a federation.
Some commissions including constitutional review commission and committees formed by the government in the past, to look at how to make the Union stronger have at different occasions also indicated that the structure of the Union is an issue that needs to be addressed amicably, particularly by solving vexing issues in the Union.
Shedding some light on the best Union government structure which is most viable option to address some of the critical problems that have caused grievances in the Union in its past six decades of existence, the retired Zanzibar’s Second Vice-President Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi says “no justification for three- government system at all!”
“I remain very firm in support of two-government system as stipulated in my political party – Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) policy and constitution. This system has enabled us maintain the Union. I don’t see how we can fix the three governments, instead it may lead to collapse of the Union,” Amb Iddi argues.
Balozi Iddi, who came through the ranks as a teacher, then a diplomat before switching to a political role with Second Vice-President being the highest position he served before legal retirement, loves to be called ‘Balozi (Ambassador).
He further contends that contentious issues cannot disqualify the validity of two-tier government system.
The retired Ambassador is also of the views that majority of Tanzanians were born and grew up under the two-tier government system, therefore, any other structure of the Union government would frustrate them as the advantages outweigh challenges in the current system.
“I am convinced, majority of Tanzanians prefer two-tier government system. Let politicians and leaders in both Zanzibar and the government of the United Republic of Tanzania walk-the-talk on resolving vexing issues in the current structure as most of the complaints can be resolved,” argues Amb Iddi.
“At least since 2006, we strengthened dialogues to discuss issues that cause grievances in the Union. There have been successes in many areas, but also there are issues – such as ‘establishment of Joint Financial Commission (JFC)’, which has no clear answers as to why it has taken too long to reach the agreement,” explained Mr Iddi.
He insisted that it is fortunate that leaders in both Union and Zanzibar governments remain committed to maintain and strengthen the Union and that the current leadership in Zanzibar and the Union have indicated and pushed for ending grievances in the unique political Union.
Vexes in the Union are issues that have arisen in various sectors/institutions of the Union or non-Union and have hampered the implementation of several initiatives.
In addressing the vexes, both the United Republic of Tanzania (URT) and the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar have adopted open and independent procedures for holding joint meetings.
These sessions are conducted by the Joint Committee (JC) for dealing with Union issues. Before the committee was formed in 2005, the government was resolving matters through various commissions and committees for investigating issues and recommending appropriate measures.
Since the formation of JC, many contentious issues have been discussed, resolved and removed from the list of Union vexes.
In May this year, Deputy Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office, Union and Environment, Khamis Hamza Khamis told the National Assembly that the government was committed to solving the remaining four contentious issues of the Union.
He said that the remaining four issues were distribution of revenue from the Zanzibar shares in the East African Currency Board and the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) profit, recommendations of the Joint Finance Commission (JFC), motor vehicles registration and importation of sugar produced in Zanzibar into Mainland market.
“I would like to assure the House that both governments are committed to work on the remaining issues and those which will arise in the future,” he said when responding to a main question by Mr Khalifa Mohamed Issa (Mtambwe – ACT Wazalendo) on the measures to settle the remaining Union issues.
He assured MPs that the efforts of solving the remaining Union issues had not stuck nor disrupted because until now, they have succeeded to solve more issues than the ones remaining.
The deputy minister said to date the two governments have discussed, resolved and removed 22 matters from the list of contentious issues of the Union.
According to a book on resolved Union matters available on the Vice-President’s website, on oil and natural gas exploration and extraction, there was an argument on how to share revenue from such resources when available.
After negotiations, the two governments decided to bring into play the Aberdeen University Petroleum and Economic Consultants (AUPEC) from Britain to provide technical advice on the distribution of the resource revenue.
AUPEC completed the work and proposals were submitted to the governments.
It further read that the Petroleum Act No. 21 of 2015 was enacted and gave Zanzibar the authority to establish an instrument to manage petroleum activities and natural gas issues, in September 2016,
Zanzibar’s Ministry of Lands, Housing, Water and Energy formulated the Zanzibar Oil and Gas (Upstream) Policy that among other things, acknowledged the existed gap regarding manpower, legal and institutional framework.
Tabling the budget estimates for his docket for the 2023/2024 financial year, the Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office (Union and Environment), Dr Selemani Jafo told the National Assembly that it was so impressive that as the nation celebrates its 59th anniversary of Union, only four contentious matters remain.
“We have made significant progress in resolving the vexes, for which we are grateful and we anticipate that in the near future, we will resolve the remaining ones aimed at strengthening the union,” he said.
Minister Jafo said in the joint meetings held in the 2022/2023 financial year; eight issues were discussed of which four of them were resolved and removed from the union vexes.
They include complaints by Zanzibar’s traders on double taxation on pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) and withholding tax.
Others are complaints from the Zanzibar Electric Company (ZECO) on skyrocketing utility charges from the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Limited (TANESCO) and a loan agreement for financing the project for the construction of Terminal III of the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport.
The Union’s contentious matters resolved include the implementation of the Act of the Commission on Human Rights and Good Governance (CHRAGG), in which Chapter 391 administered by the commission was not implemented in Zanzibar. As a result, in October 2006, the Act was amended to allow the Commission to work on both sides of the Union.
Others are the Implementation of the Merchant Shipping Act and Zanzibar’s ability to join the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Zanzibar’s participation in the East African Community (EAC) and the RGZ’s involvement in international and regional issues.
Here, the Zanzibar government presented eight development projects for inclusion in the regional projects implemented in EAC.
Four of the eight regional projects were prioritised for the preparation of the project documentation, architecture and cost assessment ready for funding. Implementation of Pemba Airport and Mpigaduri/Maruhubi port projects that the Isles government wanted to be financed under the EAC arrangement had been funded through other sources.
There was also a contention on how to share revenue from the potential oil and natural gas extraction. But after negotiations, the two governments decided to bring into play the Aberdeen University Petroleum and Economic Consultants (AUPEC) consultant from Britain to provide technical advice on the distribution of the resource revenue. AUPEC Company completed the work and proposals were submitted to the governments.
Eventually, the Petroleum Act No. 21 of 2015 was enacted and gave Zanzibar the authority to establish an instrument to manage petroleum activities and natural gas issues. In September 2016, Zanzibar’s Ministry of Lands, Housing, Water and Energy formulated the Zanzibar Oil and Gas (Upstream) Policy that, among other things, acknowledged the existing gap regarding manpower, legal and institutional framework.
The landing fee at Dar es Salaam cargo port from Zanzibar was another contentious issue, as it was argued that it was high (11,000/-) while the fee for cargo imported from abroad was low (4,000/-).
According to the Tariff Book of Port Dues and Charges of April 2013 approved by the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA), the rates charged for cargo from Zanzibar were lower than the rates charged for imported goods into Tanzania Mainland or cargo from other countries via Dar es Salaam Port to another country.
Other Union matters included the loan agreement for the construction of the Chake Chake-Wete Road in Pemba and supervision of the formulae and tax collection in telephone services being undertaken by the Zanzibar Revenue Board (ZRB), revenue collected by the Zanzibar Immigration Department, the appointment of the vice-chairperson of the Tanzania Revenue Appeal Tribunal (TRAT) from Zanzibar as well as the appointment of a board member of the Deposit Insurance Board (DIB) from Zanzibar.
Minister Jafo further noted that, between July 2022 and March 2023 his office continued to monitor Union issues which were overseen by the ministry, institution and Union departments for mutual benefits.
Mr Jafo informed the National Assembly that of 33 Union institutions, 27 of them have offices in Zanzibar, thus moving the services closer to the people.
He said the achievements attained included identification and registration of citizens in all regions in Mainland and Zanzibar which was done by National Identification Authority (NIDA), providing accreditation for higher learning institutions in Mainland and Zanzibar and enrolment of undergraduate students at the universities through Tanzania commission for universities.
The remaining four issues being worked upon include the distribution of revenue from the Zanzibar shares in the East African Currency Board and the Bank of Tanzania profit, recommendations of the Joint Finance Commission, motor vehicles registration and importation of sugar produced in Zanzibar into the Mainland Tanzania.
With all these vexes being resolved, Amb Idd is convinced that the remaining challenges will also be resolved within the near future, a fact that will continue to cement the need to remain with the current structure of two-tier government system.