Habari

Jibu kwa Prof. Tibaijuka kutoka kwa Prof. Abdul Sherif

Prof. Abdul Sherrif

The controversy about the extension of the sea boundary has come at the right time when Zanzibaris have shown that they will no longer be hijacked when their vital national interest are at stake, regardless of party affiliation. It was rather disingenuous for Prof Tubaijuka to try to introduce party divisions when she claimed that CUF was claiming that Zanzibar was not consulted. If she heard the debate in the House of Representatives, it was almost unanimous, and prominent CCM backbenchers made a point of saying that this was not the question of CUF but of the whole of Zanzibar. She should not try to divide Zanzibaris again. We have suffered enough from such tactics.

It seems that mainland leaders feel that if you have a few Zanzibaris in your gang, then Zanzibaris are represented – and it is never difficult to get a few vibaraka, as we know all too well from our history. The question is whether the people in Zanzibar even knew this business was cooking – certainly the House of Representatives, a body that was elected by the whole people of Zanzibar, did not know about it until the professor was in New York presenting the document to the UN. I and many of my friends who try to keep up with events affecting our country were taken by surprise.

Prof Tibaijuka may be right that some people even in the Zanzibar Government may have been aware of this project, but the Minister of Lands in Zanzibar, Mr Shamhuna himself said in the House of Representatives that he know about it, but the Zanzibar Government did not know it officially. The Executive Summary of Tanzania’s submission to the UN has 2 long lists of institutions and people who were involved in this project, but mentions only Shamhuna’s Ministry of Lands out of 9 institutions, and only one State Attorney from Zanzibar out of 8 members of the Technical Core Group. Now Professor Tubaijuka mentions a few more names of Zanzibari ‘representative’, including my friend and former student Zakia Meghji, but if my memory serves me right, she used to be an MP for Moshi, and has never pretended to be representing Zanzibar except as a person who was born in Zanzibar. This is definitely a case of desperation in looking for Zanzibari faces.

But all this still does not cover the substantive issue involved. It is well known that Foreign Affairs is a Union matter, and therefore any dealings with the UN has to involve the Minister of Foreign Affairs, even if the exact issue involves only one side of our Union. There are plenty of cases when this has been done about issues concerning non-Union matters of Mainland Tanzania. Therefore, it is not a favour to Zanzibar that once in a while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has to take up the case when Zanzibar’s interests are concerned – it is our right, iof we are part of the Union. The same applies to the defence of Tanzania’s territorial boundaries, which include the now extended boundaries in the Indian Ocean – that is its responsibility.

But this does not mean that the Union Government therefore becomes the owner of all the resources within the territorial boundaries of Tanzania. The Articles of Union had defined 11 Union Matters that came under the Union Government, and the sea is not one of them. Since 1964, the Union Matters have been increased to 22, illegally according to Prof. Shivji, but even in this extended list you will look in vain for the blue seas. It is for this reason that Prof. Tubaijuka is the Minister of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development (all non-Union matters), but the seas are not included. Why she was sent and not the Minister of Foreign Affairs is for the Union President to explain.

Therefore, it has to be admitted that since the oceanic resources are not a Union matter, but are of vital concern for the islands of Zanzibar which are surrounded by the sea on all sides, the people of Zanzibar have a direct stake in what is decided about their resources. And here it is not enough to mention a few names, however, highly placed they may be, and say Zanzibaris were represented.

The same argument was used in the case of the first draft of the Constitution Bill. Former Speaker Samuel Sitta claimed that Zanzibaris were consulted, naming the Zanzibar Minister of Good Governance and the AG, but it turned out that they were asked to submit their recommendations, but adopted only two out of 13, and threw the rest in the dustbin, and then went on to add many more without consulting even the Zanzibar Government.

Don’t they ever learn?

What the Representative Ismail Jussa was trying to do was to teach our Big Brother another lesson, and the mainland-based Swahili newspaper dares to ask him to apologise to Prof Tubaijuka? I think it is Prof Tubaijuka and the Union Government that need to apologise to the people of Zanzibaris for trying once gain to take us for a ride. But as the old politician Hasan Nassor Moyo told Samuel Sitta, the new generation in Zanzibar is not the same as the old generation of the 1960s, and will not say ‘hewallah bwana.’

Abdul Sheriff

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