Demands for a three-government structure of our Union:  A recipe for the Union’s breakup?

The above headline was Mwalimu  Nyerere’s  contention, when he was responding to the BUNGE resolution of 1993, which demanded  the restoration of a Tanganyika government in the Union structure.   his resolution was unanimously adopted on 24th August,1993, whose content and purpose was “to directed the government to initiate a process of consultations with the people and thereafter  submit to this House not later than April 1995, recommendations for a more acceptable structure of this Union, that will accommodate the need for a Tanganyika government within the United Republic”.

In his speeches challenging this BUNGE resolution (which was, basically, a rebellion against the “two-government’ party policy); Mwalimu Nyerere   expressed this opinion; and   carefully explain the problems that could be caused by its implementation; plus reiterating the reasons which guided the founding fathers of this Union (himself and Zanzibar President Aman Abeid Karume), to opt for the ‘two-government’ structure.

A brief resume of the background

The ‘two-government’ structure of our Union was established by the ‘Interim Constitution of the United Republic if Tanganyika and Zanzibar’, which came into force on 1st May, 1964; upon the publication of The Interim Constitution Decree, 1964, in the official Gazette of that date.

But it later became the subject of sporadic disagreements, and conflict; being challenged from time to time by a variety of interest groups; including, on one occasion, by the National Assembly (Bunge) itself.   However, all such challenges ended in failure; presumably because of the ‘inherent strength’ of the argument for a ‘two-government’ structure.                                                                                                         Today’s article will explore the records regarding this matter.

I believe that the argument for the “two-government” structure, would best be delivered by quoting the words of Mwalimu Nyerere himself; which he wrote in a publication titled “Asili ya Muungano wa Serikali  Mbili”;  (Government Printer, Dar es Salaam),  as follows:-

“Nchi mbili zinapoungana na kuwa  nchi moja, Muundo  wa kawaida ya serikali zake,  huwa ni wa aina mbili:  Ama mfumo  wa serikali moja; au shirikisho la serikali tatu.  Katika mfumo wa kwanza (wa serikali moja),  kila nchi inafuta serikali  yake iliyokuwapo na  hiyo  nchi mpya iliyozaliwa inakuwa ni nchi moja, yenye serikali moja.

Katika mfumo wa pili (wa shirikisho), kila nchi itavua madaraka yake fulani, ambayo yatakabidhiwa kwa  serikali ya Shirikisho,  lakini  yenyewe  itaendelea kuwa na serikali yake  inayoshughulikia mambo yake yaliyobaki   (yale  ambayo hayakukabidhiwa kwa serikali ya Shirikisho).

Tanganyika na Zanzibar zilipoamua kuungana na kuwa nchi moja;  tungeweza kufuata mojawapo ya mifumo hiyo ya kawaida. Lakini tulishindwa kufanya hivyo, kwa sababu ya Udogo wa Zanzibar (iliyokuwa wakati huo  ina watu laki tatu tu);   na Ukubwa wa Tanganyika (ambayo wakati huo likuwa na watu millioni kumi na mbili).  Katika hali  hiyo, Muungano wa Serikali moja ungefanya ionekane kwamba  Tanganyika imeimeza Zanzibar.  Na sisi  wa  upande wa Tanganyika,  hatukutaka ionekane hivyo,  hata kama ni kwa makosa,   ionekane   kwamba tumeanzisha ubeberu mpya. Kwa sababu hiyo, mimi nilipinga mfumo wa serikali moja.

Lakini pia, hatukutaka kwenda kwenye muundo wa serikali tatu,  kwa sababu kubwa zifuatazo: kwanza, ilikuwa ni kukwepa gharama za kuendesha serikali  zote  hizo tatu;   na  pili, ni  kwamba  hatukuwa na hofu  yoyote  kuwa  labda  bila kuwa na serikali yake, Tanganyika itaonekana kuwa imemezwa na Zanzibar! Basi  hiyo  ndiyo asili ya Muungano wa serikali mbili.

Hatukutunga mfumo huu uliopo kama wapumbavu; bali ulitazama hali yetu halisi ilivyokuwa, na tukabuni mfumo uliotufaa  zaidi katika hali hiyo”

That was, and still is, the basic argument for the ‘two-government’ structure of our Union; which has served us well for the last 59 years and which, I would suggest, is a good and cogent reason for maintaining it.  However, persistent demands for a ‘three-government’ Union structure, have continued; as will presently be shown here below.

 The list of these attempts in the order of their respective occurrences

(i)  The attempt by Zanzibar President Aboud Jumbe. In January 1984, that Zanzibar President Aboud Jumbe, had been secretly preparing a ‘new constitution’ of the United Republic, which would introduce a ‘three-government’ Union structure. But his powerful political opponents, who were also Members of the National Executive Committee, had apparently got wind of his secret plans and had conspired to bring about his downfall, based on these inappropriate activities which were, clearly, a serious breach of CCM’s ‘sacred’ policy of the ‘two-government’ Union structure and they actually succeeded!

At the February ordinary NEC meeting (in which I participated in my capacity as a member thereof), Aboud Jumbe was called to account for his ‘evil’ deeds of secretly preparing a constitution which would breach the party’s ‘two-government’ policy.  He initially denied having done what he was accused of doing. That is when Chairman Nyerere pulled out of his brief case the actual draft of Aboud  Jumbe’s  secret  ‘new constitution’  document  and showed it to him,  asking him whether he recognised that document.

Aboud  Jumbe  was completely baffled and  disarmed , as he could not continue with his attempt to defend himself.   It is at that stage that he was asked (read directed) to resign from all of his leadership positions, both in the party and in the government.                                                                                  This is what   Chairman Nyerere said, addressing Vice-Chairman Aboud Jumbe:-   “Makamu, Hali ya hewa imechafuka sana Zanzibar.  Katika hali hiyo,  wewe huwezi tena kuendelea kuiongoza Zanzibar. Lazima ujiuzulu” And his response was: “Mwenyekiti: Nakubali.  Najiuzulu”, which his good man gracefully did.

But, in reality, it was a moment of very grave political uncertainty.  No one knows what would have happened if he had refused to resign from his position as President of Zanzibar, for there were only two possible outcomes, both of them being retrogressive and wholly undesirable. They were:  EITHER that   the Union President orders the army to ‘depose’ him; OR he just keeps quiet and allow  Aboud Jumbe  to get away with it!     Considering President Nyerere’s nature and disposition, it is most unlikely that the first option would have been taken.  And if the second option had been taken; what is likely to have happened is that President Jumbe would have pulled Zanzibar out of the Union; thus eading to its break down.

The subsequent attempts

But Aboud Jumbe’s failed attempt, later turned out to be only the beginning of the often repeated, but always failed, attempts to introduce the forbidden ‘three-government’ Union structure.

All of these attempts failed for one basic reason, which is that, except for the National Assembly resolution referred to above, which took a lot of high-level negotiations to resolve; all the other attempts were made by Constitutional Review Commissions, appointed by the President, whose attempts were therefore easy to be over ruled   by their appointing Authority.

Indeed, had anyone of such feeble attempts (trying to dislodge a powerful ruling party policy) been able to succeed, that would have amounted to a real miracle. These were, in fact, only recommendations, and not demands: –

(i)  The recommendations of the Judge Nyalali Presidential Commission, appointed by President Ali Hassan Mwinyi of the Second- phase government, in 1991.

(ii)  The recommendations of the Judge Kisanga Presidential Commission, appointed by President Benjamin Mkapa of the Third-phase government, in 1998.

(iii)  The recommendations of the Judge Warioba Presidential Commission, appointed by President Jakaya Kikwete of the Fourth-phase government, in 2012.

Recommendation not emanating from the people.

A distinct weakness that appeared in all their recommendations, is that they were based on the views of the people.  Even in the case of President Aboud Jumbe’s attempt, it appears that his proposals were his own personal initiative, and not a demand from the people of Zanzibar.   This is partly evidenced by the way his removal from office as a punishment for this ‘crime’, did not create any disturbances in Zanzibar.  And with regard to the recommendations by the Presidential Commissions, undisputable evidence of this fact is readily available in the figures included in each Commission’s Report.

The factors that could facilitate the Union’s breakup.

In my article which was published on year’s anniversary of Union Day itself, Wednesday, 26th April, 2023; I drew attention to the fact that the continued existence of this Union “will depend almost entirely on the political will of our future rulers, specifically, the Presidents of the United Republic; and of Zanzibar”.                                                                                                                                                             That was the 59th anniversary of its existence, with this Union “still going strong”; and in fact, growing from strength to strength. And, in support of my contention that its continued existence will depend mostly on the political will of the rulers, I referred to an incident which nearly caused the break-up of our Union, when President Nyerere was misled into believing falsely, that Zanzibar President Karume was palpably against this union.  But because of limited editorial space, I stopped there.

However, there is a lot more to be said about the role and significance of political will, in the matter of maintaining a stable Union of two formerly independent States like Tanganyika and Zanzibar.

In the words of Mwalimu Nyerere quoted above, we learnt of the reason advanced for refusing to adopt the “one-government’ structure, namely: “udogo wa Zanzibar, na ukubwa wa Tanganyika”,(in terms of the sizes of their respective population figures); which posed the possible danger of  the appearance that the larger country had “swallowed” its smaller partner Mkubwa kameza mdogo).

But now, with the advantage of hindsight, and accumulated experience; we can confirm that the “one-government” union structure, is in fact what facilitated the breakup of several of the Unions that were established during the early years, following the attainment of independence by the relevant countries. And, indeed, this was, in all cases caused, by the human tendency implied in the fear of “samaki  mkubwa kumeza  samaki  mdogo”, all based on the absence of positive political will on the part of  the Union leaders, who deliberately decide to “swallow’  the smaller partner in the relevant Union.

The crucial role of the factor of a positive political goodwill.

It is my humble submission, that the presence of a positive political will, was the crucial factor that saved the day in our own difficult case, of resolving the conflict which was caused by the Bunge “ three-government resolution”  of 1993.  It was the presence of this factor which eventually saved the day; in te sense that  the Ruling party (CCM)  was ready and willing to go  back to its individual members, to ask them  if they were ready  to  change the ‘two government’ policy relating to the structure of the Union, a positive  action which  avoided  a direct confrontation between the party and its with its Members of Parliament, which would have occurred  had  CCM  decided to  just order its MPs to withdraw their resolution; which the party  was entitled to in those  circumstances,   since their resolution was, in fact, a rebellion against party policy.

But fortunately, the presence of a genuine positive political will saved the day.  Thus, instead of taking such a drastic confrontational step, CCM wisely decided to conduct a referendum among all its members at Branch level, asking them to answer the simple question “whether they agree to change their party’s  two-government policy” and if so, to  indicate what option they preferred,  between the ‘one-government’  and the ‘three-government’ options.The results were overwhelmingly in favour of retaining the two-government policy.   /  0754767576.                                                                                                                                                                                              


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