Zanzibar election Diary19-27 Oct.95
Comfortable (US$ 30) hydrofoil journey to
Coloured portraits of Dr. Salmin Amour, the CCM leader,
everywhere. A helpful porter at the dockside explains that you can get
Dr. Amour's pictures free but you have to pay for pictures of Mr Seif
Shariff Hamad, the Vice-Chairman and Zanzibar leader of the Civic
United Front (CUF)!
This surprising information turns out later to
have some truth in it.
We (myself and a journalist from the
'Economist') stop on the roadside and attend a small, quiet but highly
organised and very good-natured meeting of supporters of the
CUF. Lively speeches and great emphasis on the historic nature of the
decision voters will be taking in two days time.
Arrival at the hotel
and the lights go out - but only for one hour under a power-sharing
scheme with other parts of the town.
By election day however, the
nightly power cuts no longer seem to be necessary!.
A day-long briefing for the 130 international
They are told that they are there to observe and not to
intervene but they should use their common sense when problems come
They did not then realise how many problems they were going to
Lots of questions are addressed to the Zanzibar Electoral
Commission (whose Chairman and Deputy Chairman are present) about the
earlier voter registration process which had been boycotted for a time
by the CUF opposition.
How many objections had there been? Originally
about 1,000 but now only 600 remained. How much did it cost to raise
A deposit of Shs 5,000. Had there been intimidation?
Yes, in three cases in Pemba and also in Zanzibar town. The ZEC had
sorted them out and sacked one registration clerk.
Was it true that
3,000 CUF supporters had been taken off the register and 20,000 had
not been allowed to register?
No, but the law did specify that to
register in Unguja, you had to have been resident for five years and some Pembans therefore did not qualify to vote.
The average size of a constituency was 7,019 votes. Voters had to
place their ballots in three boxes - for the President, the MP and the
Ward Councillor. Next off to the Ministry of Information to collect
the 'magic' press card. With this document priority of entry was
guaranteed to every rally, every press conference, every event.
the evening, in a huge aircraft hanger-like building, the elders of
Zanzibar, women on the left, men on the right are invited to hear
Union presidential candidate Professor Ibrahim Lipumba (CUF) who had
been chosen to contest the election at the last minute when the CUF
failed to agree with Union opposition leader Augustine Mrema
(NCCR-Mageuzi party) on a joint candidature. Lipumba speaks eloquently
and repeatedly about honesty and probity and justice in
"We want leaders" he said "not rulers". In the evening I
meet a pilot and copilot of an 8-seater plane hired apparently by CCM
It is part of what is clearly a no-expenses-spared CCM
A carnival atmosphere. I don't think anything as exciting
as this has happened in Zanzibar for some time.
Two big final
In the morning it is the CUF.
At all the meetings I
later attend the respect and tolerance so typical of Tanzania is there
to be seen.
What happens is that the opposing party fills a truck with
supporters and party banners and drives past the opposition meeting,
makes a lot of noise, receives some banter in return and then, after
two or three passages, withdraws and politely leaves the other party
to continue its meeting in peace.
Bright and colourful head scarves of
the women sitting on the ground in the middle of this CUF gathering
make a beautiful picture on this hot sunny day.
It is very much like a
prayer meeting - so disciplined and orderly and the rapt attention
paid to all that is said.
Even the bicycle park is carefully
demarcated and supervised.
Three white doves, clearly well trained,
are released and wheel over the!
huge assembly to the delight of everyone.
And the CUF leader, Seif
Shariff Hamad, wearing a light beige safari suit and a distinctive
beard both looks and behaves as if he is on an evangelical crusade.
gives a powerful speech in the mellifluous pure tones of Zanzibar
Amongst other things he says "Under the British this island
was run efficiently.
We aim to do the same".
In the afternoon a much
A higher calibre pop band to warm things up is
followed, to the great excitement of the crowd, not be doves, but by
the release from a low-flying aircraft, of thousands of last-minute
leaflets exhorting people to 'Vote CCM'.
Many speeches culminating in
an impressive performance by the CCM Zanzibar presidential candidate
Dr. Salmin Amour who reiterates the message about peace, progress and
stability and how his party rescued Zanzibar from its original
The presidential candidate then drives away in his
luxurious Mercedes saloon followed by a truck load of heavily armed
police. Part of the crowd, which had stood back from the meeting and
seemed apathetic or tired of listening to speeches, now shows its
they warmly and loudly applaud him on his slow
Some tell me that they are "not going to hand the
Zanzibar back to the Arabs" - something about which there appears to
be widespread fear.
The ideological differences between CCM and CUF
do not seem to be great although CUF believes that injustice was done
in the past to landowners and should be redressed.
CUF would be likely
to foster closer relations with and more investment from Oman and the
Arab world and, although accepting the need for a continuation of the
Tanzanian Union (all major parties agree on this) would want more
autonomy for Zanzibar than CCM is likely to favour.
October 22. Election day.
It is reminiscent of the scenes at the South
African election last year. But this time it is not the hot sun which
causes the suffering.
This time it is torrential rain. A moving scene
long to be remembered - as the clouds open nobody moves from his/her
place in the long lines waiting to vote. In a massive turnout (over
95%) almost everybody is soaked and soaked again as the rain goes on
and on. But the voters remain resilient and doggedly determined to
Let there be no doubt about the enthusiasm for multiparty
elections in Zanzibar.
But then things start to go wrong. The
educational level of many polling clerks is such that, although they
have only 300 names on their voters lists it sometimes takes almost a
quarter of an hour for the clerk to find the name of one voter on his
or her list.
11 am....l pm.....3pm....and at many polling stations
voting has not yet started.
Some people are still trying to vote in
the pitch dark at midnight.
Tension rises. At one polling station in a
large secondary school, although voting is long since over, at 10.30
pm the counting has not yet started because there are no
Eventually CUF provides a generator and all the lights come
But the counting does not start. The CCM representative, who is
not joking, says that counting cannot begin under CUF lights!
Entreaties to the effect that light is light whoever provides it, are
met with a firm no. Eventually at about midnight a collection of
official hurricane lamps arrives. But mutual suspicion remains. We are
all called in observers and pressmen alike - to calm the atmosphere
but a compromise is worked out under which all the lamps will be
placed in one room and each collection of ballot boxes will be counted
separately and not simultaneously as originally planned. Hence the
beginning of the long delays in publishing results.
Counting goes on and on. Polling clerks are assiduous in opening the
boxes and showing everyone present how every single vote has been
Long arguments about where exactly the tick has been placed on
the ballot paper. A lot of people sleep at the polling
stations. Observers on duty until the early hours.
October 23. Counting of votes continues all day.
The CUF issues a statement saying that the CCM is rigging
the elections and lists 14 irregularities.
They call for a total
recount in the presidential election and the right to inspect closely
the electoral register.
Outside the CUF headquarters two units of the
armed Field Force arrive suddenly and disperse the crowd with some
The few Asian shopkeepers still open, close and bar the doors
of their shops inside 15 seconds! We talk to CUF Secretary-General
Shabaan Nloo who elaborates on the extent of what he claims to be the
He says that the army and the police had their own polling
stations; how could they have voted, as he claimed they had done, 100%
for CCM? Later, at one polling station, it takes 45 minutes of
argument to decide whether CCM won 44 or 45 votes in a ballot box.
CCM polling supervisor eventually breaks the deadlock by agreeing to
accept the figure 44 'provisionally' pending the final tally!
Dar es Salaam the Daily News reports that Professor Lipumba (CUF Union
presidential candidate), who had been expected to mobilise a
substantial Muslim vote in the mainland elections, is facing a civil
suit in the High Court filed by a resident who claims that the
Professor has committed adultery with his wife. Here in Zanzibar, to
considerable surprise, if not disbelief as so few results have been
issued, it is reported that there has been an announcement stating
that Dr. Salmin Amour will be sworn in as President in two days time!
I had planned to return to the mainland today assuming that the
Zanzibar election would be over but decide to stay on. Most of the
rest of the media do likewise foreseeing further drama.
A clearly agitated CCM issues a statement saying that the
elections have not been free and fair and that fresh elections should
be held in six months time.
Many people had not voted:
there had been
harassment and intimidation by CUF supporters;
there were differences
between the election results declared at polling stations and those
being issued by the ZEC.
The Finnish UN diplomat Kari Karanko and his
few remaining observers looking harassed as they also find serious
discrepancies at two closely fought polling stations.
We go and talk to CCM Deputy Secretary-General Ali Ameir Mohamed who
explains that it was not an easy decision to reject the election
results but there had been so many discrepancies.
Commission had clearly been incapable.
The observers had exceeded
their mandate and had to be very careful when working in a third world
environment as they could trigger the sentiments of the people, Asked
whether, as it seems that the election is going to be almost a dead
heat, it would not be wise to set up a government of national unity as
proposed by CUF, The Deputy Secretary General tells us that this is
not South Africa - where the arrangement is only transitional after
all - there are all kinds of historical, ideological and political
reasons why it would not be feasible in Zanzibar.
Most of the CUF
leaders were in earlier Union and Zanzibar governments.
We should read
the party manifestos and see how much they differed, CUF had been
Still no official declaration of results- I go to the ticket office to postpone my
departure yet again.
In the absence of truth, rumours flourish.
One rumour says that
Dr. Amour has been to see President Mwinyi and told him that CCM is in
danger of losing the election- President Mwinyi is said to have
replied that this is democracy and the result must be accepted.
Amour is then said to have stated that he is not prepared to do this
and will deal with the matter in his own way. But it is only a rumour!
In the evening, Dar es Salaam TV announces that CUF has won.
are not sure whether to believe it or not, Julius Nyerere, speaking at
a rally in support of Benjamin Mkapa in Morogoro, is reported on the
radio to have appealed to the two leading parties to accept the result
whatever it is.
Later, when he hears the result, he suggests that, in
view of the closeness of the result a government of national unity
would be the best solution.
The English language newspaper 'The Express' and the
Swahili newspaper 'Majira' announce prominently on their front pages
that Seif Shariff Hamad has been elected as President of Zanzibar by
164,548 votes to 155,787 for CCM.
Other papers print the same news
with a question mark.
Augustine Mrema congratulates Hamad on his
In Zanzibar tension rises as everyone waits for the Zanzibar Electoral
Commission to finally issue the official results. People standing
around radios all over the town. Most shops firmly closed. A long
private meeting of the leadership of the ZEC. A twice postponed press
conference finally starts in a very small, stiflingly hot room at the
ZEC at 2.30pm. If a pin were to drop you would hear it.
The result is announced. CCM has won by a majority of o.4.
There is no appeal against the decision.
Chairman disappears rapidly.
One observer is overheard to say that
this is a disaster.
The media pack besiege the CCM's Ameir
Mohamed. Does he still feel that the elections were not free and fair?
With face beaming he replies that he is very happy with the results
and on the other point he will have to speak to his colleagues. He
fights his way to his car.
Within minutes jubilant CCM supporters are out on the streets noisily
Cars with horns blowing; CCM flags everywhere. CUF
supporters not easy to find and very subdued.
The entire media pack
jumps into anything with four wheels and sets off at high speed for
what turns out to be a very modest single story house in Mtoni - the
home of Seif Shariff Hamad in the outer suburbs.
He is expecting
He brings chairs into the garden and in a cool and relaxed tone
states that he finds the results totally unacceptable.
It is simple,
he says, more people have voted than there are on the electoral
His party will not work with what he describes as 'this
illegal government' in any way and will boycott the Union elections on
This latter decision is subsequently overruled by the CUF
Asked what will happen next he says that CUF
members are well disciplined and there will be no violence.
president will be very oppressive.
Hamad will continue to inform international public opinion about what has
While he is speaking, a Landrover full of armed police
Have they come to arrest him? No, they say. They are here to
give him extra security.
He tells them that he doesn't need it.
look rather uncomfortable midst so many foreign TV cameramen and stay
outside, beyond the gate.
The remaining observers continue checking and rechecking results. It
seems that they are in a dilemma.
Some observers want to publish their
Others fear that it might cause disturbances. The observers
appeal to all parties to keep the peace.
President Mwinyi is reported
on the radio to have sent his congratulations to President Amour on
his victory and to Mr Hamad for participating and for the results he
I postpone my departure for the mainland yet again but
am becoming worried that I may miss what is, after all, the main event
on the mainland.
CCM celebrations continue.
Nineteen hours after the declaration of the results
Dr. Salmin Amour is sworn in at a colourful and well organised
ceremony midst thousands of excited CCM supporters at the Amaan
National Stadium. A 21-gun salute.
Western diplomats conspicuous by
their absence but the locally resident consuls of India, Mozambique,
China and Oman can be seen in the grandstand as can the Kenya High
The letter from whom knows Zanzibar condition well.Oct.29.'95
E-mail from Tanzanian overseas.Oct.30.'95
E-mail from Tanzanian overseas .Nov.15.'95
E-mail from Anonymous Oct.31-Nov.3
E-mail from Tanzanian overseas Nov.19.'95
E-mail from Anonymous Nov.25
E-mail from Anonymous Nov.26
E-mail from Anonymous Dec.23
E-mail from Anonymous Jan.16
E-mail from Anonymous Jan.30
E-mail from Anonymous Feb.1(in Swahili)
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