Why Zanzibar  still lives up to  Karume’s legacy

Why Zanzibar still lives up to Karume’s legacy

AMONG the majority population of Zanzibaris, mainly the elderly, the Isles First President, the late Abeid Amani Karume, retains a hero status.

People recall the grim days of sultanate and view Karume as a saviour, a star who fought against ‘oppressors’ and ushered in a new era of Zanzibaris and ‘real’ independence for Zanzibar.

As we celebrate the 58th anniversary of the Revolution, the late Karume is remembered for the great work of developing Zanzibar within his short term in office of about nine years, and better housing is one of his legacies.

 President Karume who was assassinated on 7th April 1972, started a huge project of improving houses for the poor, demolishing small and dilapidated ones and replacing them with modern flats still ‘living’ and benefiting many.

The houses popularly known as ‘Michezani flats’were built in various areas of Zanzibar starting at Michenzani – Zanzibar’s proposed new centre as part of the revised masterplan, in Unguja Urban West Region; Makunduchi in South Unguja and Gamba village in North Unguja.

Also the houses/flats were built in Pemba Island, in places such as Wete, Madungu, Michenzani-Mkoani, accommodating hundreds of people, mainly the underprivileged persons in both the Islands of Unguja and Pemba since before his death.

“We are still enjoying living in the houses built by the late Karume; we remember him for his efforts as we celebrate the Revolution,” says Ms Fatma Omar, one of the beneficiaries of the Karume’s flats.

But Ms Fatma, a mother of six who are all now adults, says lack of maintenance leaves the buildings, which in 1970s made some areas of Zanzibar resemble streets in the developed countries and leaves a lot to be desired.

Mr Baraka Mohamed Shamte, a veteran politicians who witnessed the start of the construction of the buildings in 1960s says; “The supervision was done by the President himself, as most of the time he was at the site issuing directives.” Mr Shamte, a son of Mohamed Shamte who was the first Zanzibar chief minister under the sultanate regime, says the late Karume wanted all citizens to live in decent houses and that is why he started a huge project to improve housing gradually.

“He left us too soon, before his dream was fully realized. But also most the buildings he built and give to people had no maintenance for a long period. It is fortunate that the government and individuals have started to maintain them,” he says.

Ms Mwanaisha Ally Said, the Director General of Zanzibar Housing Corporation (ZHC) says the government is still living Karume’s housing legacy as buildings that are in bad conditions are being repaired and plans are underway to construct new ones.

The mandate of the ZHC is clearly stipulated in the functions and powers accorded to it through the Zanzibar Housing Corporation Act 6 of 2014.

In accordance with this Act under section 7 (1), the ZHC has the overall responsibility to facilitate the provision of houses and other buildings to Zanzibaris for residential, commercial, industrial or other real estate purposes.

The Minister of Lands and Housing, Ms Riziki Pembe Juma mentions huge housing projects for rehabilitation of the houses built by the late Karume in phases and also to build modern residential houses, even in rural areas.

“Our plan demonstrates living Karume’s legacy. We have started to rehabilitate and improve Michenzai flats, starting with the most dilapidated and the government is funding the project, while also encouraging people with individual houses to repair them,” Minister Riziki says, adding that the government is also encouraging private sector to invest in housing business, and development partners to support the underprivileged to live in better houses.

She says that even flood victims of 2017 whose houses were swept away have been assisted with new permanent homes, thanks to the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) of the United Arab Emirates (EAE) for funding the construction of 30 houses for 60 families.

Flood free areas of Tumbe in Pemba and Nungwi in Unguja were selected for the construction of the 15 modern houses for 30 families at each area.

Mr Mohamed Mahmoud is one of the beneficiaries of the houses who thank the government and the development partner for the support. President Mwinyi handed over the houses in Nungwi to the beneficiaries last November as he shared his happiness about the completion of the $2.2m house project that brought new life to the flood victims.

Dr Mwinyi urged the beneficiaries in both Tumbe and Nungwi to ensure they maintain the houses so that they can be used for a long period of time, while taking precautions to minimize impacts of floods.

“The houses area ready for you. The challenge of water shortage in the area, and delays of compensation funds will end soon. It is fortunate that the new homes for the flood victims are equipped with social services,” Dr Mwinyi says.

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