“I would like to inform the House that both presidents have okayed Zanzibar to start legal and institutional preparations to manage its oil and natural gas as the Union government reviews the existing laws and administrative powers over the matter,” legislators were told on Wednesday.
Moving a motion to adjourn the Zanzibar House of Representatives session to January 16, 2013, the Second Vice-President Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi said he has already informed, in writing, the Union government Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda, before the agreement between the two presidents is documented.
“We expect that the matter will end in a short period and I will definitely inform the House about the development. “On our part (Zanzibar) we need to put in place administrative structure, policy, prepare a Bill on oil and natural gas and authority to manage our natural resources,” he said.
Zanzibar has since 2009 been demanding that oil and natural gas be removed from union matters. Zanzibar House passed the resolution to remove the natural resources from the list of union matters, but lawyers have argued that implementation is impossible without an agreement with Union government.
Politicians, leaders in Zanzibar government and pressure groups mainly Uamsho Islamic group have been pushing to changes in the Union so that Zanzibar enjoys more autonomy, including non-sharing oil and gas with Tanzania mainland.
Meanwhile, as Muslims celebrate Eid tomorrow, Amb. Iddi appealed for peace and stability, warning that security officers will not spare anybody breaking the law. “I ask people particularly youths to refrain from acts of violence. We need peace to develop,” he said as security anxiety grows in Zanzibar.
Uamsho leaders including Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmad are still in remand and today are expected to appear in court again over incitement and instigating violence.