David Lawrence, Tanzania and Its People
People of Tanzania
Their Ethnic Identities
TANZANIA has one of the
largest numbers of ethnic and racial groups in Africa. It also has one of the largest populations on the continent.
It has about 130 ethnic
groups indigenous to Africa and is surpassed only by Nigeria which has about 250, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with
about 200, and Cameroon with about 150.
We are going to look at
each of those groups to get a demographic picture of the largest country in East Africa, a region comprising Kenya, Uganda,
Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. All these countries also constitute an economic bloc known as the East African Community (EAC)
which one day may be transformed into a political federation under one government.
Each of Tanzania's ethnic
groups differs from other groups in terms of culture, language and social organisation, although there are some similarities
among a number of groups which share customs and traditions in varying degrees.
The languages of some
of these groups are also very closely related in terms of vocabulary and structure because of their common origin, shared
history and interactions – including intermarriage – through the centuries.
In fact, some of Tanzania's
largest ethnic groups, the Sukuma and the Nyamwezi are very closely related.
But even within the groups
themselves, at least some of them, there are some differences in terms of language and culture.
And in most cases, the
demographic pattern of the country coincides with geography. Each region is identified with specific groups.
Therefore geography reflects
ethnic identities as much as it does in other parts of Africa. For example, Songea District in Ruvuma Region in southern Tanzania
is inhabited mostly by the Ngoni.
Bukoba District in northwestern
Tanzania is inhabited mostly by the Haya; Iringa in the Southern Highlands by the Hehe, Moshi in Kilimanjaro Region by the
Chaga, Dodoma in central Tanzania by the Gogo, Rungwe District in the Southern Highlands by the Nyakyusa, Tabora in western
Tanzania by the Nyamwezi and so on, although there are smaller numbers of other people, as well, in all those areas.
Some of the minority groups
are indigenous to those districts; for example, the Kisi who live around Lake Nyasa in Rungwe District, while others are not.
And some of them are closely related. The Ndali, for example, of Ileje and Rungwe districts, are closely related to the Nyakyusa
and their languages are mutually intelligible. They even use the same tribal names in many cases.
Even before Europeans
came, different tribes lived in their own areas. The colonial rulers only reinforced these separate ethnic and geographical
identities by drawing administrative lines on that basis to create districts which were inherited at independence and which
exist unto this day as the basis of administration in post-colonial Tanzania and other parts of Africa.
Although Tanzania has
one of the largest numbers of ethnic groups in Africa – for example, neighboring Kenya has only 42 contrasted with Tanzania's
130 – the country has not been affected by ethnic conflicts which have ravaged many other parts of the continent.
In fact, Tanzania is the
only country in East Africa which has been spared this agony. And for decades since independence, it has been one of the most
peaceful, and most stable, countries on the entire continent.
One of the main reasons
for that is the size of the ethnic groups – or tribes – in the country. Most of the groups in Tanzania are relatively
small. Therefore there are no dominant groups which have been able to flex muscles and dominate others.
The Sukuma, the largest,
has about 3 million people. But that's in a country of about 40 million. And they have not even attempted to dominate the
country because of the good relations which already exist among the nation's different tribes whose members are also united
by a common language, Kiswahili, and by a strong sense of national identity transcending tribal – as well as regional
But there are tensions
between Tanzanians of Asian origin, mostly Indians, and black Africans mainly because of the dominance of the Tanzanian Asian
community in commerce.
The hostility towards
them is not purely economic in terms of motivation. Racism is also a factor. But it's mostly economic. And the vast majority
of black Tanzanians and their fellow countrymen of Asian origin get along just fine. Also, most Tanzanians prefer dialogue
to violence in resolving their differences.
The two largest black
African ethnic groups, the Sukuma and the Nyamwezi, are not only closely related linguistically; they are also related culturally.
And they share a lot of similarities in terms of social organisation, how they live and how they earn their living.
The Sukuma also own large
herds of cattle but they are also farmers like the Nyamwezi and other Bantu groups in Tanzania and elsewhere on the continent.
Their traditional homeland
is a region south of Lake Victoria in northern Tanzania, and the name of their ethnic group, “Sukuma,” means “north”
and, in this context, means “people of the north.”
The people call themselves
Basukuma, which is plural form. In singular form, a Sukuma is Musukuma. This linguistic designation is applicable to all ethnic
and racial groups.
The same prefix or something
similar to that is found in other Bantu languages. For example, in Nyakyusa language, spoken by members of the Nyakyusa ethnic
group which is one of the largest in Tanzania, the people call themselves Banyakyusa just as the Sukuma call themselves Basukuma,
and the Nyamwezi – Banyamwezi, and so on.
In Swahili or Kiswahili,
the plural is Wasukuma. The singular form is Msukuma. The prefixes Wa- and M- are used to identify other tribes and races
in the same way.
the Sukuma and the Nyamwezi were farmers and cattle owners, many of them now concentrate on agriculture to earn a living.
They are engaged mostly
in subsistence farming. But they also grow cash crops and sell whatever surplus they have from the crops they grow for their
own consumption. The Sukuma also grow cotton. And the Nyamwezi are also known to be excellent bee keepers.
During German colonial
rule, the Sukuma and the Nyamwezi worked as porters and acted as middlemen in the trade with the Swahili people and the Arabs
along the coast. The Nyamwezi also played a big role in the slave trade working with the Arabs.
Besides the Sukuma and
the Nyamwezi, another ethnic group which is one of the most well-known in Tanzania is the Chaga.
There's some dispute on
how their name is spelt. Some spell it as Chagga and others spell it as Chaga, the former being an anglicized version common
even in a few other African names which some people spell with double letters instead of a single letter common in African
languages. Even some Swahili people spell their names that way; for example, instead of Ali, some spell their name as Ally.
Whatever the case, the
Chaga or Chagga is one of the most well-known ethnic groups not only in Tanzania but in the entire East Africa. And its people
were among the first to get education provided by Europeans in the country.
They were also among the
first to grow coffee, their main cash crop. And like the Nyakyusa and the Haya, the Chaga are some of the biggest growers
of bananas in the country. The Nyakyusa and the Haya also produce coffee in large quantities.
Although the Chaga are
indigenous to the area around Mount Kilimanjaro, they also live in other parts of Tanzania just like members of other tribes
do. And they are some of the most successful people in business.
The Makonde of southern
Tanzania are some of the most well-known people not only in Tanzania but also among tourists from all parts of the world because
of their highly valued wood carvings. Their works of art are known worldwide as Makonde carvings.
They straddle the border
with Mozambique and virtually form a cultural and linguistic bridge between Tanzania and northern Mozambique, which is also
their traditional homeland. And they are some of the most tradition-bound people in Africa, immensely proud of their culture
and way of life.
The Makonde are also one
of the largest ethnic groups in Tanzania. And because they have lived in virtual isolation for a long time, they have not
been very much influenced by modernisation, thus reinforcing their ethnic and cultural identity.
They have had interactions
with Muslim traders for centuries. But they have not been influenced by Islam or Islamic culture in a way they normally would
have been because of this long interaction had they not been highly defensive of their identity as a people and their traditional
way of life. Many of them continue to follow their traditional religion and live the same way they have lived for centuries.
A sample of Tanzania's
demographic profile must include the Swahili for a balanced picture because of their dual heritage, African and Arab, among
The Swahili live mostly
along the coast and are a product of intermarriage between Africans and Arabs. But members of other black African groups along
the coast such as the Zaramo around Dar es Salaam and others are also considered and consider themselves to be Swahili because
of the Swahili culture they have adopted and the strong Islamic and Arab influence which has shaped their lives for centuries.
Most of them also speak
Kiswahili as their first language, a distinction that also qualifies them to be Swahili or Waswahili.
As coastal people, the
Swahili also have a reputation as excellent fishermen and sailors. And their dhows have been used for trade on the Indian
Ocean for centuries, trading with Arabs, Indians and other people from Asia including Chinese and Indonesians.
And in many ways, their
culture is an eclectic mixture, and blend, of African and Arab influences and to a smaller degree includes Indian elements
In the former island nation
of Zanzibar, there are a number of African groups although fewer than those on the mainland. And they originally came from
the mainland themselves. Also, almost one-third of all Zanzibaris came from the mainland in recent times. The rest settled
in Zanzibar centuries ago.
The indigenous Zanzibaris
who include the Hadimu and Tumbatu on the island of Zanzibar which is also known as Unguja, and the Pemba on Pemba Island,
and all of whom are Bantu, also include people of Persian or Iranian descent.
The Persians who first
settled in Zanzibar in the 900s A.D. were gradually absorbed by the indigenous groups through the centuries, producing a distinct
group known as Afro-Shirazi.
But the black African
groups in Zanzibar have remained largely intact, maintaining their identities for hundreds of years as they still do today.
In fact, even many of
the Zanzibaris who identify themselves as Shirazi, and nothing else, are as black as any other black Zanzibaris. That is
because they are black in most cases, more than anything else, despite their claims
to Persian ancestry. Many of them have none, and some of them have very little of it. They're just ashamed of their black
Zanzibaris are also descendants of slaves from the mainland including Congo, and Malawi which was once known as Nyasaland
during British colonial rule. There are also groups of Comorians, Somalis and a large number of Arabs who once ruled the former
island nation for centuries. There is also a significant number of people of Asian descent, mostly from India.
Arabs, a significant number of immigrants from Oman settled in Zanzibar in the past several decades. They were mostly poor
and are known as Wamanga in Kiswahili. And those from Yemen are known as Washihiri.
There's no question that the ethnic and racial mixture of Zanzibaris is unequalled anywhere else in Tanzania except
along the coast. And it has produced a population that is unique on the continent in many respects.
one Tanzanian journalist, Jenerali Ulimwengu, stated in his article – which was a review of a book by Professor Issa
Shivji of the University of Dar es salaam who is a Tanzanian of Indian descent – published in The East African, 30 June 2008, and entitled “Nyerere: How He Manipulated Zanzibar”:
“When anti-colonial forces in Africa were agitating for independence, different
ethnic, racial and class formations vied with each other for political ascendancy.
in particular was a melting pot where groups of varied origins had created a culture, civilisation and language that were
distinctly Zanzibari in particular and Swahili in general, belonging to the larger religious and cultural ensemble of coastal
city-states that dotted the East African coast from Lamu and Mombasa to Sofala in present-day Mozambique.
rich tapestry of Zanzibari society brought together not only people from the African mainland, from as far away as Nyasaland
(present day Malawi) and Belgian Congo, but also from Oman, Yemen, the Comoros, India and Shiraz in Persia, - who interacted
extensively in the fields of commerce, agriculture and the crafts and who, though the idyllic characterisation of social relations
on the islands of Unguja and Pemba may have been exaggerated, could not strictly be pigeonholed into the racial hierarchy
obtaining on the mainland (Europeans at the top, Asians in the middle, and Africans at the bottom). A unique Zanzibari identity
thus came to be a reality, whatever the origins of those who claimed it.
was the politicians, in jostling for space in the public consciousness, who ushered in the politicisation of race and ethnicity,
especially as Independence approached and the prospects of acquiring power beckoned. Thus were born the easy categorisations
that sought to place the various ethnic and racial groups into the neat little boxes -Arabs, Indians, mainlanders, etc - that
have coloured the politics of the islands to this day.
Karume and the Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) accused the Zanzibar Nationalist Party (ZNP) of being Arab feudalists acting at the
behest of their masters in Oman, the ZNP suspected Karume and the ASP of being Trojan horses for the mainland (Tanganyika).
The bad blood created in that epoch poisons Zanzibari politics to this day.”
the mainland itself, the stunning diversity of its population reflects a neatly textured rich tapestry of multiple identities
weaved into one transcending ethnic and regional loyalties.
groups that constitute Tanzania mainland range from the Alagwa to the Zyoba.
of them even look different from each other. But they still see themselves as one people....
The Union of Tanganyika
THE Union of Tanganyika
and Zanzibar was formed on 26 April 1964 when the two countries united to form one country. It was named the United Republic
of Tanzania on 29 October the same year.
Both were independent
countries. And both ceased to exist as countries when the union was formed. They surrendered their sovereignties to a higher
authority, the state of Tanzania, which was the product of the union.
It was the first
union of independent countries ever formed on the African continent. And it's the only union of independent states that exists
on the continent today.
It is a peculiar
union, unique in its configuration in the entire world.
While both Tanganyika
and Zanzibar ceased to exist as separate nations and as countries, Zanzibar retained its status and continued to exist as
a political entity, but not as an independent state. Tanganyika, on the other hand, ceased to exist even as a political entity.
There is no Tanganyika today. And there are no Tanganyikans. But there is Zanzibar, and there are Zanzibaris.
This unique arrangement
was deliberately crafted to ensure that Zanzibar retained its identity in the larger political entity of the union in order
to alleviate fears among Zanzibaris that they had been swallowed up by Tanganyika.
of Zanzibar, Abeid Karume, wanted a complete merger. But the president of Tanganyika, Julius Nyerere, refused. He did not
think it was a good idea for Zanzibar to lose its identity completely because Tanganyika was much bigger than Zanzibar, in
terms of area and population, and felt there was an imperative need to assure Zanzibaris that they had not been submerged
in the merger.
But in spite of
that guarantee, many Zanzibaris felt back then, and still fee today, that they were not treated fairly when the union was
formed. They feel that when their country united with Tanganyika, it became a junior partner in the union.
And there are
those who contend that Zanzibar entered the union as an independent state and never lost its status as a sovereign nation.
There are also many Zanzibaris who simply don't want to be part of the union. They say it was a mistake from the beginning
for the two countries to unite and Zanzibar has not benefited from the merger.
In 2000, Seif
Shariff Hamad, the leader of the Civic United Front (CUF) which is Tanzania's largest opposition party, bluntly stated that
if his party won the election in Zanzibar, he would lead Zanzibar out of the union. The Civic United Front is strongest in
Zanzibar, especially on Pemba Island.
There are also
complaints from the mainland. Former Tanganyikans, now Tanzania mainlanders as opposed to Zanzibar islanders, say the former
island nation is overly represented in the union government and other state organs despite its size which is much smaller
than that of former Tanganyika.
Also a group of
55 members of parliament from the mainland supported a bill in the 1990s which would have established a separate government
for Tanganyika. They wanted Tanzania to have three governments: one for the union, one for Zanzibar, and one for Tanganyika
or Tanzania mainland.
The founder of
the union, Julius Nyerere although no longer president of Tanzania, was totally against the idea and said restructuring the
union on the basis of three governments would destroyed the union.
He still had formidable
influence after he stepped down from the presidency and remained the most powerful national leader until his death in October
1999 at the age of 77.
The the fate of
the union again became a subject of public debate in June-July 2008 when Tanzania's Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said in parliament
that Zanzibar was not a country and ceased to exist as a sovereign nation when it united with Tanganyika in 1964. He was answering
a question by a member of parliament from Zanzibar who wanted to know whether or not Zanzibar was still a country.
His response sparked
furious debate in Zanzibar, and even in the Zanzibar legislature, with many Zanzibaris maintaining that Zanzibar was indeed
a country and never lost its status as as an independent nation. There were also demonstrations in Zanzibar against what the
prime minister said in parliament.
The matter was
widely covered by the Tanzanian media. It also got attention from other East African media outlets, especially in Kenya and
Uganda whose leaders have discussed with their counterparts in Tanzania the possibility of forming an East African federation
under one government. As one of the Tanzanian newspapers, The Citizen, Dar es Salaam, stated in its report of 26 July
2008 from Zanzibar entitled “Shamhuna Adamant Over Zanzibar Status”:
“ The debate
about Zanzibar's sovereignty once again emerged in the House of Representatives yesterday with the Isles' government vowing
to stick to its earlier stance.
calls to shelve the debate on grounds that the union government was handling the issue, a senior Zanzibar Government official
said the debate was far from over.
He suggested that
they were determined to defend their view on the political status of the Isles despite the fact that their Constitution and
that of the United Republic clearly state that Zanzibar is part of Tanzania.
Speaking in the
House yesterday, the Isles' deputy chief minister, Mr Ali Juma Shamhuna, denounced claims that Zanzibar is part of Tanzania.
He was responding
to contributions by members of the House of Representatives when discussing the 2008/9 Budget speech for the Ministry of Information,
Culture and Sports.
Mr Shamhuna said
Zanzibar was a sovereign state and would continue to hold that political status forever.
'The subject of
whether or not Zanzibar is a sovereign state has not been exhaustively discussed. And I think we have the right to continue
discussing it,' he said.
speaker of the House banned the debate saying Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda's office was handling the issue.
The prime minister
has ordered the attorney-generals from the Mainland and Zanzibar to find a way of clearing any doubt over the political status.
Mr Pinda said
he believed the problem originated from different interpretations of the Constitution. 'It might be better for attorney-generals
from both sides to look into it and, if necessary, give proposals on how to solve it,' he said.
But Mr Shamhuna
told the (Zanzibar) House that there was no question about the Isles' status.
He said: 'Zanzibar
is a sovereign state and it will continue retaining such a status. We should not get tired of defending such a status.'
The chief minister
referred to Article 9 of Zanzibar's Constitution arguing that it provided a clear picture of the Isles' status. 'The fact
that Zanzibar has its own executive, legislature and judiciary substantiates that it is a state on its own,' he said.
Mr Shamhuna, who
is also the Minister for Information, Culture and Sports, said he was surprised by those who issued statements claiming that
Zanzibar was not a sovereign state. He added that no one had the authority to stop the people of Zanzibar from fighting for
almost all over the world are transforming themselves into more democratic states. In doing so, people in those countries
no longer fear anyone when fighting for their rights,' said Mr Shamhuna.
His remarks were
a veiled attack on some senior Government officials who had been reportedly trying to convince people not to discuss the subject
on grounds that it constituted treason.
He also said he
agreed with the statement given earlier by Zanzibar Attorney-General (AG) Iddi Pandu Hassan in which the AG described Mr Pinda's
remarks in the (Tanzania) National Assembly recently as 'a slip of the tongue.'
The minister explained
that the prime minister's remarks in Dodoma had actually increased the people's desire to discuss the matter.
'We thought the
statement made by the Attorney-General on behalf of the Zanzibar Government that refuted the Prime Minister's utterances was
clear and that the statement by Mr Pinda was just a slip of the tongue.
'But since the
prime minister has stuck to his earlier statement, we are made to believe that this debate is not over,' he said.
Mr Shamhuna said
officials who were threatening people over the subject were undemocratic.
Since last month
when the controversy surfaced, there had been calls for authorities to settle the matter that threatens the fragile union
But his (Prime
Minister Pinda's) stance that the Isles is not an independent country outside the union government within which it can only
exercise its sovereignty has apparently earned him a lot of criticism from the Zanzibar House of Representatives.”
The speaker of
the union parliament, Samwel Sitta, also banned the debate on Zanzibar's status in the union. According to a report in another
Tanzanian newspaper, The Guardian, 25 July 2008, from the nation's capital Dodoma, entitled “Sitta Also Bans
Debate on Zanzibar Status”:
Assembly Speaker Samwel Sitta issued a directive here yesterday effectively barring Members of Parliament from any further
discussion on whether Zanzibar is legally a state....
The Speaker explained
that the Prime Minister elaborated comprehensively on the issue inside the House last week, including recommending that the
Union and Zanzibar attorney generals pursue it jointly to its logical conclusion....
He stood by his
ruling amid a wave of questions on what the Union Constitution said about the status of the Isles from the opposition camp,
led by Zanzibar legislators Mohamed Habib Mnyaa (Mkanyageni - CUF) and Dr Ali Tarab Ali (Konde - CUF) .
Mnyaa had demanded
explanation from the Prime Minister on whether it was the Articles of Union that formed the United Republic of Tanzania or
the Union Constitution that reigned supreme.
'I think Hon Mnyaa
is not wishing me any good. I didn't want to comment on this issue at length. I have learned from the media that there was
a demo planned against me in Zanzibar,' noted Pinda, before responding.
He then said the
matter had already been left in the hands of the two attorney generals in the hope that they would make a thorough study of
the Constitution and see where there were problems and how best to deal with them.
He added that
he believed time had come for the ruling CCM to take up the matter and issue a conclusive statement on it 'after which I think
we will be in a position to get a definitive answer.'
'Since the Union
belongs to all Tanzanians, the issue is not the responsibility of only the government but of all the people,' argued the legislator,
his favourite option being the initiation of a public dialogue 'so that the people can decide.'
It was at that
juncture that Speaker Sitta intervened, issuing the 'stop order' just as Zanzibar House of Representatives Speaker Pandu Ameir
Kificho did only days ago.
MPs' questions in the National Assembly last week, the Prime Minister was emphatic that there was no way Zanzibar could become
a sovereign state within another sovereign state (the United Republic of Tanzania) because doing that would automatically
break the April 26, 1964 Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.
Pinda, a lawyer,
explained that Zanzibar was not a sovereign state because it lost the status when it became part of a new sovereign state
known as the United Republic of Tanzania.
He said he saw
no way during his prime ministerial tenure in which he would be a party to a political experience or process that would lead
to the collapse of 'the precious and exemplary Union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.'”
There are leaders
on both sides who want to preserve the union. But no-one knows if the union would survive if the people were asked to decide
in a referendum on Africa's only union of independent states – whether or not it should continue to exist.
In spite of the
problems the union faces, there's no question that it has survived, and even thrived, for more than 40 years since its consummation
in 1964. And Tanzania has, throughout its history, been one of the most stable and most peaceful countries on the continent
and in the entire world.
So, if the merger
were a threat to national stability and security, its existence for more than four decades as a stable entity provides incontrovertible
evidence showing that is not the case.
Also the majority
of Tanzanians, on the mainland and in the isles, were born after the union was formed. Tanzania is the only country they know.
And it's highly unlikely that the majority of them would want it to break up.
They know nothing
from personal experience, like their parents do, about the existence of Tanganyika and Zanzibar as separate nations. And it
is Tanzanians of this generation in whose hands lies the future of the union.
Should their parents
succeed in breaking up the union, although this is only a remote possibility, they would have betrayed their own children
whose destiny is inextricably linked with the continued existence of Tanzania as a single political entity under one government
of this United Republic.
However, it must
also be emphasised that there are many people of the younger generation on both sides of the union – in Zanzibar and
on the mainland – who want the union dissolved. Many people on the mainland, younger and older ones, feel that Zanzibar
is burden on them. The former island nation does not have a lot of resources and is dependent on the mainland for economic
of all generations, contend otherwise. They say they are exploited by the mainland.
The debate on
the status of Zanzibar in the union escalated in August 2008 when legislators from Zanzibar and from the mainland had a heated
exchange in the national parliament, with some of the MPs (members of parliament) calling for the restructuring of the union
on the basis of three governments, including one for the mainland.
mainland does not have a separate government. There are only two governments: one for Zanzibar and one for the union which
also serves the mainland.
to have only one government for the whole country: none for Zanzibar and none for the mainland.
And there were
some MPs from Zanzibar who bluntly stated that the union should be dissolved and the former island nation should reclaim its
former status it once enjoyed as a full sovereign entity.
According to a
report on the parliamentary proceedings in Dodoma published in The Citizen, Dar es
Salaam, 21 August 2008, entitled “Mainland, Z'bar Mps Disagree”:
debate over Zanzibar's status raged in Parliament yesterday with legislators from the Mainland calling for the formation of
a single government as the permanent solution to conflicts arising from the current union structure.
Zanzibar MPs continued to pour scorn on the structure of the Union and pressed for a review of the constitution, Mainland
MPs took the view that the formation of one government was the answer to the growing crisis over the status of Zanzibar in
the union government.
House was debating the budget estimates tabled by the Minister of State in Vice President's Office responsible for Union Affairs,
Mr Muhammad Seif Khatib, who was seeking the approval of Sh2.3 billion for the ministry.
the division that emerged in the House when debating the proposal to set up Kadhi courts in which MPs were divided along religious
lines, this time CCM and CUF MPs from the Isles buried their differences. They expressed dissatisfaction with the union structure
while MPs from the Mainland called for a single government.
the debate, opposition spokesperson for Union issues, Riziki Juma, said the structure of the union was the first issue to
be dealt with if union differences are to be resolved.
said the Union constitution does not reflect the original Articles of Union as key items had been left out, or were in the
constitution but in practice this isn't the case.
first MP to propose a one-government structure was Mr Lucas Selelii (Nzega-CCM) who told the House that forming one union
government was the best answer in solving the growing crisis over the state of the union and the status of Zanzibar.
caution that our fellow MPs must know that the union comprises two parts. All of us have a profound interest in it, but I'm
surprised by our colleagues' claim that they are sidelined,' he said, underlining that self-sacrifice was paramount for the
union to last.
said differences in the union could be sorted out through existing mechanisms without having to question the union. But Zanzibar
MPs continued to pile on accusations that the union favoured Mainlanders.
Ali Said Salim (CUF) sought an explanation on the issue of Zanzibar's shares in the Bank of Tanzania, saying Zanzibar has
been contributing to the BoT as part of Tanzania but the contribution ended in benefiting only the Mainland.
said since the union was formed, it was automatic that the sovereignty of the two countries died after the union but the current
structure of the union operates as if Zanzibar never existed.
said that under the original agreement of the union and by the constitution, the Zanzibar President would remain the vice-president
but the provision has been flawed and the president is no longer the VP.
hit back at Kyela MP Harrison Mwakyembe who last week accused Zanzibar ministers of being disrespectful by criticizing Prime
Minister Mizengo Pinda for saying Zanzibar was not a state.
MP said Dr Mwakyembe should apologise to all Zanzibaris, citing Article 103 (3) of the constitution, where Zanzibar ministers
are only responsible to the Zanzibar President and that they had the right to express their feelings.
Mr Selelii quoted article 1 of the Union constitution, its territory and its people, which stipulates that Tanzania is one
state and is a sovereign united republic.
2 (1) states that the territory of the United Republic consists of the whole of Mainland Tanzania and the whole area of Tanzania
Zanzibar including the territorial waters.
then quoted article 52 (2) on the powers of the Prime Minister, which notes that the PM shall have authority over the control,
supervision and execution of the day to-day function and affairs of government of the United Republic.
is enough to prove that the PM has authority on the two sides of the union and that Dr Mwakyembe was right and it is they
who are supposed to apologise,' the MP insisted.
Mr Job Ndugai (Kongwa-CCM) said Tanzanians are becoming tired of hearing
endless complaints from Zanzibar MP.
said the Kongwa constituency he represents has 300,000 inhabitants but only one MP while Pemba Island, which has the same
number of people, is represented in Parliament by nearly 30 MPs. He said despite such hiccups no MP from the Mainland had
said it was unfair for a minister from the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar to openly scoff at the PM and blowing minor
contentious issues on the Union out of proportion.
end the emerging problems about the union, having one union government was the only remaining option, he further declared.
Mohamed Amour Chombo (Magomeni-CCM) insisted that the current structure of the union was not beneficial to Zanzibaris and
they are the ones who carry the burden caused by existing discrepancies in the union.
said the best way to help Zanzibar get out of the problem and find ways of boosting its economy was allowing it to join the
Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).
Ponsiano Nyami (Nkasi-CCM) called MPs who stood against the union 'agitators' and that they were not supposed to be in the
House. 'The worst thing about this is that it is the MPs who under article 65 of the constitution swore to protect the constitution
are the ones abusing it,' he said.
you fail to defend the constitution you are no longer eligible to be a member of this House. Go and talk of your anti-union
sentiments outside the chamber,' the MP intoned.
said Zanzibar which has less than one million people has over 50 MPs and five members of the House of Representative have
seats in Parliament. Mainland Tanzania with over 40 million people are represented by just 250 MPs and none of their MPs enters
the House of Representatives.”
to a report in the government-owned newspaper, the Daily News, also from the nation's
capital Dodoma – seat of the national parliament – published on 21 August 2008 and entitled “MPs Divided
Over Union Setup”:
“Members of Parliament
were yesterday divided on whether the state of the Union should maintain the current two-tier but single Union government
or adopt thorny proposals for a three-tier federal system of administration.
The opposition criticized
the present two-tier structure of the Union in favour of a federal system with three governments.
Contributing to the budget proposals of the Vice-President’s Office (Union
Matters), most MPs opposed the proposals for a federal administration and called for a single government instead, arguing
it was the ultimate stage of the 44-year-old political marriage between the then Tanganyika and Zanzibar.
But when winding up, the
Minister of State in the Vice-President’s Office (Union Matters), Mr Muhammed Seif Khatib, said any changes of the Union
should come from 'wananchi' themselves, not just Parliament. He said that the Union would be changed to accommodate prevailing
changes and to address some challenges when necessary, admitting that the Union was man-made therefore it had some shortcomings.
'There’s no need to
keep on complaining … let’s come up with strong arguments to make the necessary changes because the Union is dynamic
… A better way of respecting the Union’s founders is to consolidate the Union instead of merely showering praises
on them,' he noted.
Mr Khatib pointed out to what he described as 'hypocrisy and insufficient knowledge
and information' on the Union that had led some leaders to exaggerate all issues touching on the Union.
Earlier on, Mr Lucas Selelii
(Nzega – CCM) proposed for a single government, but appealed for tolerance and constructive dialogue to maintain the
44-year-old Union. The legislator expressed deep concern over recent exchanges of heated swipes between politicians, including
those traded between ministers from the two sides of the Union.
He said the political marriage
between the then Tanganyika and Zanzibar was not ordained by divine law, saying it was the product of human beings with inherent
shortcomings that could be amicably resolved through dialogue and consensus.
Mr Mudhihir Mudhihir (Mkinga – CCM) and Mr Ponsian Nyami also called for
a single government structure, but warned that there were people who were distorting facts on the Union leading to confusion.
'With one government in place,
there will be no complaints,' Mr Nyami told the House.
Mr Mudhihir noted that process to form one government should be a gradual, peaceful,
cohesive … not forceful one.
'Any effective medicine is bitter … it is not easy to go away with Zanzibar
government due to the traditions…one government is the only solution,' he said.
Mr Mudhihir said there were
claims that there was no revolution in Zanzibar on January 12, 1964, but that people from the then Tanganyika invaded the
Isles and toppled the government in power.
'This is not true at all,' the MP said, referring to a book by an author called
Feruz. The legislator described the book as 'a collection of lies' and charged that the author was among people who had attempted
to distort the history of the Union.
The MP said the author listed
the alleged invaders from Tanganyika as Mr Hassan Nassor Moyo, Mr Abdallah Natepe, Mr Said Mfaranyaki and one Mr Darwesh.
Ms Riziki Omar Juma (Special Seats – CUF) told the House late Tuesday that
the current structure was among the causes of discontentment in the country.
Ms Juma, who is the opposition
spokesperson on Union Affairs, also charged that some of the changes in the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania
of 1977, were against the letter and spirit of the original 1964 Articles of Union.
The opposition contended that the Articles of the Union provided that the Chairman
of the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council and Isles President was then designated the Union Vice-President.
She said that under the present
arrangement, the president of Zanzibar was a mere member of the Union cabinet, with insignificant authority over affairs on
the United Republic.
The MP also challenged continued extension of the Union matters in the first schedule
of the Constitution from the original 11 items to 22 at present.
She said many of the additional
items were not in favour of the Isles – citing the position of the Attorney General of the United Republic as ‘unconstitutional’
since the administration of justice was not a union matter.
During debate on the 2008/09 budget proposals for the Vice-President’s Office,
the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Parliamentary Affairs), Mr Philip Marmo, said all constitutional
changes were supported by legislators from Zanzibar.
'It is unfair to blame legislators from the Mainland on the changes because the
Zanzibar House of Representatives and the Union Parliament unanimously endorsed them,' he said when he rose on the point of
Jakaya Kikwete bluntly stated that both Tanganyika and Zanzibar surrendered their sovereignties when they united in 1964 to
form one country known as Tanzania.
By saying so,
he threw his weight behind Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda who had been had been harshly criticised by many Zainzibaris for saying
that Zanzibar no longer exists as a sovereign state but is an integral of the United Repubic of Tanzania. According to a report
in one of Tanzania's leading newspapers, The Guardian, from the nation's capital Dodoma,
22 August 2008, entitled “JK Irked by Union Debate”:
on whether Zanzibar is a state or not is unfortunate because it is propagated by the same people charged with the responsibility
of advising the government, President Jakaya Kikwete said yesterday.
Parliament, Kikwete hit out at public leaders who he said confused the wananchi deliberately on the issue of the structure
of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar.
his three-hour speech, President Kikwete said he did not believe that after 44 years of the Union, there were public leaders
who did not know the essence and history of the Union.
'We are confusing and dividing our people for nothing.
There is no need to show our differences on this issue in public. It is unfortunate that some of the people behind this issue
are members of the committees formed to work on the problems of the union, he said.
The President said both Tanganyika and Zanzibar surrendered their sovereignty in 1964 to give
way to a new sovereign state, which is Tanzania.
'Tanzania is the new sovereign state which identifies the people of Tanganyika and Zanzibar,'
he said, adding, maybe the people behind this issue have their own agenda. Otherwise I see nothing which the people do not
The President said Tanzania was still one country
and the Union was still strong.
'There have been some challenges, but every time
they arise, we have been working on them using the system we have put in place to solve our problems,' he said.
Kikwete said even the wave of arguing whether
Zanzibar was a country or not would pass. He called on public leaders to avoid using languages that might divide the people.
He said the teams formed to work on the problems
of the Union were going on well, adding that he was optimistic that the solution would be found.
There has of late been a debate on the status
of Zanzibar in the Union government, following Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda's statement in Parliament last month that Zanzibar
is not a state.
Pinda`s statement sparked debate in the House
of Representatives with some Zanzibar government ministers saying the PM was wrong.
On Wednesday, the House was divided on the issue
of the structure of the Union, with legislators from Zanzibar demanding a new set up that would benefit both sides.”
editorial in the same newspaper captured the essence of the controversy and expounded on some of the themes which have been
the subject of debate between Tanzanians who support the union and those who are opposed to the merger. Published in The
Guardian, 23 August 2008, the editorial was headlined, “What's Behind Zanzibar
“For quite some time, the issue of sovereignty
of Zanzibar has dominated print and electronic media highlights. The whole controversy surfaced from nowhere other than inside
the Union legislature itself.
It all began during a question and answer session,
when the Prime Minister, in an answer to a question as to whether Zanzibar was a country or not, said that the country's sovereignty,
including that of Zanzibar, rested in the United Republic of Tanzania.
This statement was sufficient to provoke a furore
that culminated in President Jakaya Kikwete’s speech in Dodoma on Thursday, who said that he did not believe that after
44 years of the Union, there were political leaders who did not know the essence and history of the Union.
The President said that both Tanganyika and Zanzibar
surrendered their sovereignty in 1964 to give way to a new state, which is Tanzania. He added that Tanzania was the new state
which identified the people of Tanganyika and Zanzibar.
Much as we agree that the concept of sovereignty
is a playfield of political scientists, it basically revolves around the fact that there must be a supreme power existing
in a state, and in this case, the United Republic of Tanzania, although Zanzibar has retained a significant degree of autonomy.
At the centre of the whole debate is the validity
of the word 'country,' as could be applied to Zanzibar in its current constitutional status.
Currently, Zanzibar has its own anthem, legislature
and autonomous government, which runs several ministries apart from those which fall under the auspices of the Union government,
which also comprises cabinet ministers from Zanzibar.
This is more or less similar with the United Kingdom
of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly called Great Britain or Britain.
According to a dictionary definition, Britain
is described as 'a country of Western Europe comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.'
Likewise, Tanzania, a unitary state, is a country in Eastern Africa, comprising Tanganyika
and Zanzibar, so the supreme power of this country lies neither in Tanganyika nor Zanzibar but in the government of the United
Republic of Tanzania.
Granted that Zanzibar has got a government, House of Representatives and its own anthem and
constitution, so have the constituent states and provinces in the federal systems of Australia, Canada and the United States
and Union of South Africa.
As in any state merger, the United Republic of Tanzania is not a Union without problems.
Such problems can relate to the devolution of powers and challenges of upholding not only the
letter, but also the spirit of the Articles of the Union.
Other challenges of the Union include primordial tendencies, which could also be at the heart
of the on-going controversy.
For that reason, it is better for holders of such views to come out in the open and profess
their true intentions so that the whole issue can be debated and acted upon not only in a transparent manner, but also in
line with the country’s Constitution.”
The debate over
the status of Zanzibar underscores one fundamental fact: There are a number of issues which have not been resolved or clarified
since the union was formed in 1964....
Tanganyika Before Independence
The Swahili People
and Swahili Culture
in A Capsule
and Nkrumah on Continental Union under one Government
David Lawrence, Tanzania
and Its People,