Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Butiama Bed & Breakfast

Monday, July 8, 2013

To save the Union the Warioba commission proposed a federal structure

Members of the Warioba Commission appointed by President Jakaya Kikwete last year to collate views on a new constitution for Tanzania accepted a daunting task, a thankless work that was guaranteed to receive criticism. The criticism was inevitable. How can you please 44 million Tanzanians at one instance?
After their appointment last year a political commentator poured out his sympathy for the difficult task that the members of this commission for having to shoulder the burden of attempting to reconcile Tanzanian's existing conflicting demands and how those demands could be reconciled in the constitutional proposals.
One sticking point that has countless offshoots is the union between Zanzibar and Tanganyika, consumated on 26th April 1964 and depending on who is speaking is either the best example of Africa's long quest for unity, or is a relentless effort by Tanganyika's leaders (Mwalimu Julius Nyerere is pointed to as the architect of this conspiracy) to deny Zanzibar and its people true unadulterated sovereignty.
To anyone who cares to listen, those voices that are crying for a Zanzibar that is free from the Union have been much louder than the voices that have defended the Union. And that, I find, is the case both in Zanzibar and on this side of the Union, Tanganyika.
Both architects of the Union, Mwalimu Nyerere and Sheikh Abeid Amani Karume, are dead and buried. And perhaps it is good that this is the case because I do not know how they would have taken the current constitutional proposal by the Warioba Commission of a federal structure: a government for both Zanzibar and Tanganyika, and a federal government. And I suspect that members of the Commission, in drawing up their recommendations, most likely weighed on the reality that Karume had died in 1973 and Mwalimu in 1999. Pardon the cliche' but dead architects of the Union cannot speak.
Some scholars contend that Sheikh Karume said the Union was like a coat and if it did not fit one could remove it. We know that Mwalimu Nyerere advocated unity, African unity, as a matter of principle. Tanzania was a step towards a united Africa. He would have taken back the ill-fitting coat to the tailor for a readjustment.
But anyone attempting to defend the Union today in whatever form (ill-fitting or retailored) is, in my opinion, swimming against a tide of resentment from Zanzibar and, increasingly, from this side of the Union. There appears to be a genuine belief from Zanzibar that the Union is delaying Zanzibar's development.
I believe members of the Warioba Commission were placed in the front seat and obtained an accurate assessment of the prevailing views in Zanzibar. Any recommendation that was not a step backward towards true unity - which is what a federal structure is, in my opinion - would have given ample ammunition to those who say the ill-fitting coat has to be hanged in the closet or preferably thrown away. The Commission had to chip away at unity to preserve the Union.
So, ndugu, let us commend the work of the Commission on recommending a federal structure. For the sake of the continued existence of Tanzania they had no other sensible choice.

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