By Gabby Mgaya, 6th September 2010 @ 00:03, Total Comments: 1, Hits: 5175
IAM excited at the prospect of skirmish-free and peaceful general elections in Zanzibar this time around. It all augurs well for democratic governance in the fabled Spice Islands.
The previous three general elections in the Isles – from 1995 to 2005 – have not been a bed of roses. Those have been trickier and trying times for members of the Fourth Estate -- or is it the unofficial Fourth Estate? I was there during the 2000 general elections.
Then it was not a very safe place for a journalist to be – or to report about. I had just been transferred to Zanzibar in time to cover the elections. I remember that one morning before the elections, there was sporadic gunfire near my residence and I had to tell my children to stay away from the windows, before venturing off myself outside to cover the events! I was in the isles between 1997 and 1999 during which time I experienced the hazards of a post-election grievance era.
It was an eventful time and I cannot complain as a journalist. Still, it was not good for the isles’ stability and prosperity. The post-1995 general election turbulence had attracted much international concern and the Commonwealth, in liaison with the governments of Tanzania and Zanzibar, initiated negotiations between CCM and CUF aimed at ending the destructive political impasse.
After months of protracted talks, the two parties reached an agreement that was termed ‘Muafaka’. The ‘Muafaka’ did not hold on for long following what political analysts described as lack of mutual trust between the two parties and lack of seriousness in the implementation of the important clauses contained in it.
It vanished just before the 2000 elections, which were chaotic, to say the least. What happened afterwards in which a number of people lost their lives on both Unguja and Pemba, which resulted into Tanzania producing its first refugees, is better forgotten than remembered, pointing to the need for fresh peace talks that culminated into ‘Muafaka 2’.
But even this new agreement did not last for long, necessitating yet another round of negotiations dubbed ‘Muafaka 3’. When the stage had been set for the signing of this agreement, everything went kaboomp as both parties disagreed on a matter of principle.
All hope seemed lost until, all of a sudden, two key players in the Zanzibar political scene at the moment, President Amani Abeid Karume and CUF Secretary General Seif Sharrif Hamad decided to buty the hatchet and strike a new reconciliation deal in the best interests of the people of Zanzibar.
Hopefully this year, journalists won’t have to endure tear gas and police batons. Hopefully this year, journalists will be able to report the much-awaited and undisputed free and fair elections in Zanzibar.
Total Comments on the above stories (1)
I keep playing that, there should be no blood shed in Zanzibar nor hardfeelings among the people of zenji. Of lately, the unanimously agreed on running their Island jointly btn CCM and CUF. I know as everyone knew, once they run their Island jointly ,then, the union btn Tanganyika and Zanzibar will meet a dead-end. Zanzibaris will have freedom to addres the union problems abd seek remmedies righaway and not to keep them under the carpert as it ever was. God bless Zanzibaris!
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