AfricaPress-Tanzania: ZANZIBARIS woke up to the shocking news on Wednesday. The demise of First Vice-President Seif Sharif Hamad has come as a big political blow to the Islanders.
The second in command in the revolutionary government, Maalim Seif, as his admirers prefer addressing him, was born on October 22, 1943 and until his death was, besides serving in the government, the National Chairman of Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT-Wazalendo).
After the demise of the 77-year politician, the fate of opposition politics in Zanzibar remains unclear. Maalim Seif was indeed the icon of opposition politics in the Indian Ocean’s semi-autonomous archipelago.
He was first admitted at Mnazi Mmoja Referral Hospital here on January 31, 2021, before his transfer to Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in Dar es Salaam but yet his death has come as a great surprise to majority Zanzibaris and Tanzanians in general.
The late Hamad was the first and so far the lone First Vice-President under the 2010 Zanzibar Constitutional amendments, which introduced the government of national unity in the Islands.
He had also served as Secretary General of the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) until March 18, 2019, when he ditched the party in favour of ACT-Wazalendo in which he won the chairmanship election and nomination for the 2020 Zanzibar presidential election.
The symbol of opposition politics in Zanzibar, Hamad received his primary education at Uondwe and Wete Boys School in Pemba between 1950 and 1957, before joining Unguja-based King George VI Memorial in 1958 through 1961 for secondary education.
He pursued his advanced secondary education at the same school between 1962 and 1963.
The late Hamad delayed his university education for nine years—1964 to 1972—to serve in civil service due to massive departure of the British officials in 1964 Zanzibar revolutions.
He taught in various secondary schools, before joining the University of Dar es Salaam in 1972 to graduate with B.A in Political Science, Public Administration and International Relations in 1975.
Politically, the late Hamad served as a Member of the Zanzibar Revolutionary Council and Zanzibar Minister of Education (1977–1980), founding member of the Zanzibar House of Representatives (1980–1989) and Member of Tanzanian Parliament (1977).
He further served as Member of the Central Committee and National Executive Committee of the ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) between 1977 and 1987; Head of the Economic and Planning Department of CCM (1982–1987); and Chief Minister of Zanzibar from February 6, 1984 to January 22, 1988.
When Tanzania adopted the multiparty political system in 1992, the late Hamad along with other former CCM members founded CUF ahead of the first multiparty elections, which saw Hamad standing for Zanzibar presidency on the opposition party’s ticket in 1995.
He was narrowly defeated by CCM candidate Salmin Amour, fetching 49.76 per cent of the vote behind Amour’s 50.24 per cent.
The late Hamad had since the 1995 general elections consistently stood for Zanzibar presidency until the last October polls when he emerged with 19 per cent of all votes.