Africa-Press – Tanzania. AFTER five years of inactive Government of National Unity (GNU), which was formed in 2009 to heal Zanzibar socio-political wounds, the year 2020 has notably ushered in the beginning of a new era of political tolerance in the Isles.
The GNU came to life in 2009, but ceased post the 2015/16 general elections when the main opposition party, Civic United Front (CUF), opted against participating in the re-election in March, 2016.
However, post 2020 General Election, Zanzibar refused to let GNU remain in the papers as the newly-elected Zanzibar President Dr Hussein Mwinyi made it real, again.
Dr Mwinyi swore in Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad from the opposition party ACT-Wazalendo, as the First Vice-President of Zanzibar in the event filled with hopes and determination for the Indian Ocean semi-autonomous archipelago.
During the swearing-in ceremony at the State House, President Mwinyi said since he vowed when taking oath of office that he will protect the Zanzibar Constitution which requires the formation of the GNU, he, therefore, ensured that he implements the formation of the GNU.
The Constitution directs the winning candidate in the Presidential race to select a person, from a political party that emerged second in total votes count, for the position of the First Vice- President.
“I am a believer of national unity, brotherhood and solidarity…I believe that reconciliation is the way to build social cooperation and national unity and it assures peace in the country,” Dr Mwinyi stated.
“My desire and no doubt that it’s everyone’s desire, is to heal wounds of Zanzibar from the historical background that have continued to trouble us especially during elections,” he told the Islanders.
“This is why I have reached out to our fellows from the ACT-Wazalendo and welcomed them to the GNU,” Dr Mwinyi revealed as he called for burying the hatchet.
Dr Mwinyi argued that social reconciliation was impossible if the parties kept on reminding each other over the past conflicts, noting that bravery on reconciliation is to forget the past and build a culture of trusting each other.
On his part, Mr Hamad told President Mwinyi that his good intention to rebuild Zanzibar has encouraged his party, which emerged second in the 2020 polls, to put the national interest first.
“My party told me that they have chosen me for the post because I was, together with the then Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume, in the frontline to lead the Zanzibar reconciliation in 2009 and thus, participating in the first GNU with 7th Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein who ended his second tenure in last November,” he said.
“My party asked me to accept so that I come to heal wounds of Zanzibar and to flourish the GNU…this is why today I have taken the oath of office,” Mr Seif stated.
The veteran politician, who once served as Zanzibar Chief Minister, recalled that the GNU was formed as the organ to supervise and coordinate the journey of the Zanzibaris to the true reconciliation.
“It should be understood that it is not the intention of the GNU to be a platform for securing political hierarchies among political parties,” Mr Hamad emphasized.
He explained that the GNU was formed not only to have participatory leadership but also to get rid of political hatreds and conflicts as well as revenges, which have been sources of sufferings to Zanzibaris.
“Therefore, the 2020 General Election has brought us back where we intended to be when we formed the GNU,” he stated.
“The 2020 elections have taught us that legal and constitutional answers alone can’t make us achieve our goals of reconciliation…we have a duty of finding social solution…disunited Zanzibar can never foster development, this is why we have decided to join the GNU to unite the Zanzibaris,” he noted.
At a press conference, days before presenting the name of Mr Hamad for the position, the ACT’s Secretary General Ado Shaibu said the Central Committee (CC) resolved to allow members of the House of Representatives, Members of Parliament, and councillors to represent the party and voters.
According to Mr Shaibu, following the Central Committee’s instruction, the party’s leadership committee met and proposed the name of a member, who will serve as Zanzibar’s First Vice President in the Isles’ eighth-phase government, under Dr Mwinyi.
The 2006 Zanzibar Constitution puts mechanisms for establishment of the GNU.
Article 9 (3) of the Constitution states; ‘the structure of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar or any of its organs and the discharge of its functions shall be so effected as to take into account the need to promote national unity in the country and the overall goal of attaining democracy.’
Mr Shaibu said the CC had carefully considered the political situation in Zanzibar, and decided to put voters’ interests first.
“The CC has reached this decision after making careful analysis, interests of voters and Zanzibaris in general have been given the first priority,” he noted.
According to the ACT Wazalendo leader, the consultations involved scores of members of the party, who unanimously advised the party to take that decision.
The party has a total of four elected MPs for the National Assembly and four others for the Zanzibar House of Representatives.
ACT Wazalendo stated that it came to its knowledge that it was unwise for only leaders to make decisions without hearing from members.
“We have done this in order to heal our nation, bringing light and putting national interests and the interests of Zanzibaris first,” Mr Shaibu stated.
“We need visionary leaders who are capable of thinking and planning for a better nation…this is what we call a good quality of leadership,” he added.
After swearing in as Zanzibar President last month, Dr Mwinyi said the slot was open for the ACT-Wazalendo to send a name for the post of the First Vice-President as per the Zanzibar Constitution which requires formation of GNU.
Dr Mwinyi who contested on the ruling CCM won the Zanzibar presidential polls after garnering 76.27 per cent of the total votes cast.
The new Zanzibar President went on to form 15 ministries but appointed 13 ministers and left the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender and Children and that of Trade and Industry Development vacant, waiting for the Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo) to fill them.
The constitution of Zanzibar requires the presidential winner to form the GNU with the party that gets at least 10 per cent of the votes.