Finally, the cat is out of the bag. The election re-run date is out. The Chairman of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC), Mr Jecha Salum Jecha, made the announcement. ZEC also announced that there would be no campaigns ahead of the March 20 elections, and political parties will have to do with the same candidates that had contested the nullified elections which have been the source of the political crisis in Zanzibar.
The announcement has not come as a surprise as it has been expected all the time because both the October elections contender Ali Muhammed Shein and his lieutenant Seif Ali Idd have been trumpeting for the re-run. The Civic United Front (CUF) has all along fought against the re-run and its presidential candidate Seif Shariff Hamad has been vehemently challenging the idea on what he claimed that he had won overwhelmingly and he should have been announced the winner.
The Opposition rejects the re-run because the elections went not only freely and fairly, according to local and international observers, but are being supported on this by the acceptance ofthe Union presidential and parliamentary results in the Isles.CUF has announced that it was not going to take part in any re-run plan.
In other words the Opposition is making a huge statement that it was staying away from the re-run. This was not the first time the Opposition has opted to stay away since the re-introduction of multiparty politics in 1992. It has done so in Pemba where it allowed CCM to freely take all the constituencies and it has done so as well in Zanzibar Urban and West District where also CCM tookall seats. However, in the next elections CUF grabbed all Pemba constituencies and in Urban West District. CUF believes the re-run is unconstitutional and illegal. It was planned to allow CCM to rig.
It is not in Zanzibar’s best interest and CUF stands on its strongest point that the elections held last October were still valid and the only thing that should be done was to continue with the announcement of results and declare the winner.
CUF’s announcement might have shocked CCM. The party occupying the seat of the government falsely believes that CUF could not boycott the re-run as it had no other option but to take part because it was the only way to achieve power
However, CUF believes that taking part would only be legitimising the election re-run whose results are predictable as CCM is not calling for it to lose. CUF still believes that there could be divine intervention from somewhere. The party has left no stone unturned trying to see amicable conclusion of the standoff which has left Zanzibar sofar peaceful but with high undercurrent of tension and mistrust. Appeals have been made that it was not for the best interest of Zanzibar to continue with the current status quo because it lacks both constitutional and legal force but the Tanzania government under President John Magufuli has propped up the Zanzibar regime against the will of the voters.
Let it be known to all others who are in position of power that extreme care is required to resolve the Zanzibar issue and let them not be deceived by neitherthe sweet words and assurance provided by the Zanzibar leadership nor by the what seems as business as usual attitude. Zanzibar has dynamic and unpredictable political culture and certainly needs good handling. To allow a re-run can be disastrous.
NB: This article was written by Ally Saleh and firstly published by The Citizen on 31 Jan. 2016.