Cablegate: Zanzibar: Karume Berates Ambassadors On Joint Statement

DE RUEHDR #0578/01 2441403
R 011403Z SEP 09




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: (A) Dar es Salaam 532 (B) Dar es Salaam 531 and (C) Dar es
Salaam 517 and previous

1. (U) BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY: Over the weekend following issuance
of the August 13 Joint Statement by key donors on Zanzibar voter
registration anomalies (ref B), FM Membe contacted heads of mission
of signatory countries and "invited" them to Zanzibar to hear the
views of Zanzibar Revolutionary Government (SMZ) President Karume.
On August 17, representatives of the QFriends of 2010Q Group that
drafted the Statement met to shore up a common position, and on
August 18, Chiefs of Mission of Sweden (as EU President), the
European Commission, Canada, Norway, the UK and the U.S. met with
Karume and Membe. During the week following the meeting, Zanzibar
Affairs Officer and Specialist went to the island of Pemba to
monitor the state of play and follow up on assertions made by the
SMZ. Tensions that resulted in violence leading up to the Joint
Statement appear to have subsided for now. Voter registration
remains halted until agreement on a way forward among the parties
can be reached on the fairness of the Zanzibar ID system. END

2. (U) "Friends of 2010" Heads of Mission met on Zanzibar with SMZ
President Karume August 18 at the invitation of FM Membe. Membe
opened the meeting by recalling that Karume had expressed his
intention to President Kikwete to speak with the representatives of
the countries sponsoring the Joint Statement in order to clarify
certain points. Acting on behalf of President Kikwete, FM Membe
said his role was to set up the meeting. He introduced Karume to
each of the embassy representatives, and asked Karume to explain the
Zanzibar ID system and to share his Qwisdom of the situation.Q FM
Membe made no other comment during the meeting, nor did he comment
on substance during the lunch he hosted afterward.

3. (U) During the meeting, President Karume sat by himself in his
QPresidential Chair,Q while a row of seats to his left held Membe
and SMZ cabinet members and officials, including, inter alia, the
SMZ spokesman, Chief of the QRevolutionary CouncilQ (a type of Chef
de Cabinet), Minister of State in the Chief MinisterQs Office
(overseeing ZEC and the ID Cards) and the ID Card Director, Mohammed
Ame. Seated in the row of chairs to KarumeQs right sat key members
of the QFriendsQ group: Sweden, Canada, Norway, the U.S., UK and the
European Commission.

4. (SBU) President Karume spoke first. Zigzagging between pique
and petulance, he took exception to references in the joint
statement that implied there was any Union Government role in the
registration and ID processes underway in Zanzibar. He went through
the text line-by-line, stopping at each point where QTanzaniansQ and
QUnion Government of TanzaniaQ were mentioned vis-a-vis QZanzibaris
and the QRevolutionary Government of Zanzibar (SMZ),Q offering
arguments on each point. He did not seem to take on board our
intent to convey that there should not be any kind of QZanzibar
exemptionQ to basic rights in Tanzania or that it was ultimately the
responsibility of the Union government to guarantee the rights of
all of its citizens, including Zanzibaris.

5. (SBU) Karume suggested the Joint Statement was a product of
ignorance on the part of the QFriendsQQ regarding Zanzibar and the
Union set-up. QIf you knew this, I doubt you would have issued the
statement,Q he said. Distinction between authorities (he did not go
into responsibilities and obligations) was essential to Zanzibar.
QIt safeguards our nationhood; if you mess with the safeguards, you
mess with the Union,Q he concluded.

6. (U) On the use of ID cards for voter registration, Karume said
the purpose was to address long-held complaints of voter
impersonation, double voting and other electoral fraud. ID cards
were a necessary, transparent and positive reform, he insisted.
ZanzibarQs ID cards were an efficient, secure, tamper-proof form of

DAR ES SAL 00000578 002 OF 005

identification. Moreover, he claimed, legislation on ID cards was
passed through bipartisan support in the House of Representatives.
Complaints from the opposition that qualified Zanzibaris were being
denied cards were Qtotally unfounded,Q Karume said.

7. (U) Karume said he could back up his assertions by statistics,
using the 2005 voting numbers for the four districts in northern
Pemba and comparing them with current ID card issuance in the same
2005 registered voters 2005 actual votes now
registered for IDs

CONDE : 8947 8179 9070

MGOGONI: 8329 7835 8472
(Karume noted that Mgogoni was the hometown of CUF leader Seif
Sharif Hamad)

MICHEWENI: 9779 9085 9554

WETE: 10327 9362 10147

Karume concluded that by looking at the numbers one could conclude
that all who qualify for Zanzibari QcitizenshipQ were being issued
IDs. Complaints of the opposition were Qunfounded. Everyone who
was eligible to vote could vote.

8. (U) Speaking as EU President on behalf of the EU partners,
Sweden said both the statement and the current discussion were
helpful activities, and it was important to keep up the dialogue.
There were a few elements of common concern: it appeared that some
people on the ground were being denied IDs; there was a complicated
process to get an ID that might foster irregularities; the role of
Shehas in the process was not transparent; and there was concern
about the status of those denied an ID to vote. Violence was also a
concern. We looked forward to improvements and would watch
developments on the ground. Ultimately, as friends, what we see is
part of a broader political climate Q there was a need for genuine
reconciliation between the political parties.

9. (U) Canada spoke on behalf of the non-EU friends (Japan, Norway,
Canada and the U.S.). Canada agreed with the points raised by
Sweden, underscoring that the right to vote was fundamental. The
comments of the QFriendsQ were being made in the spirit of
cooperation. The Joint Statement was an early reaction by committed
partners and should be seen in that constructive context. Because
at some point donors would be asked to comment on the 2010
elections, there should be no surprises at our views or how they
were formed. Free and fair elections in 2010 might be a challenge,
but ultimately it was the responsibility of the Union Government to
guarantee the rights of all its citizens.

10. (U) CDA Andre responded to KarumeQs assertion that there were
no anomalies in Pemba and that the QFriendsQ were primarily reacting
to false statements made by the opposition party. The U.S. stated
that our concerns were collectively formed through direct
observation in the field. Moreover, the U.S. was not the only
country that was making these observations. (NOTE: Norway pays for
an NGO team of observers on Pemba. The Norwegian CDA was at the
Karume meeting but chose not to speak. END NOTE.). What we were
seeing with our own eyes was a system that appeared to favor people
who were committed to the ruling party. They could get a card
easily, while it might be harder or impossible for those perceived
to be favorable to the opposition to get a card. In some instances,
those born and raised in Pemba were being denied Zanzibar IDs.

11. (SBU) CDA Andre related that in U.S. history there was a

DAR ES SAL 00000578 003 OF 005

QshamefulQ period in the past wherein basic freedoms of our Union
Government were unevenly applied in the Southern part of our
country, especially as regards voting rights. We understood the
QgameQ about the ID registration process and did not agree that it
was being conducted fairly. Sometimes the will at the top did not
always transfer down to the bottom rungs of government. We hoped
there would be access to ID cards to all who qualify, but the issue
was broader and concerned accessibility to the whole range of
government services, not just the right to vote. We held the Union
ultimately responsible for guaranteeing liberties for all
Tanzanians. Ultimately, in Zanzibar, reconciliation between the
parties was essential.

12. (U) Karume said those involved in the process who were saying it
was unfair were Qcrazy.Q Karume said that at the outset there might
have been a few Qbottlenecks,Q but Q well before the Joint Statement
Q as soon as there appeared to be a problem, he dealt with it. The
only problems seemed to have been in Wete, not in Micheweni or any
other constituencies. Karume said he called in the Wete Regional
Commissioner, District Commissioners, the Director of IDs and all
other relevant leaders to go through what the problems might be.

13. (U) He acknowledged there might have been an early problem of a
shortage of available ID card application forms, but now the process
had been simplified, and every Sheha had enough forms for eligible
applicants. Karume stressed that the key words were Qeligible
applicants,Q not political parties. There was an incident involving
one QmisguidedQ Sheha who did not know Qthe proper method of giving
out forms,Q but Qthis had been corrected.Q Karume said it was his
responsibility to ensure that every eligible Zanzibari must have the
right to vote - not necessarily every Tanzanian in Zanzibar. For
all others, Karume said there were NEC offices in every district in

14. (SBU) Karume said that, on the surface, acquiring an ID card
might seem complicated, but the whole process took only a week, from
application to card issuance. He had ID Card Director Mohammed Ame
give details about the card issuance process. Both Karume and Ame
stressed that the problem lay with opposition CUF. At the beginning
of the ID issuance in 2005-2006, CUF boycotted the process. During
the early Qmass registration,Q more than 7,000 cards were issued but
were never collected, including by senior CUF parliamentarians. Not
being issued a card and not picking up a card were two different
matters. Not bothering to register at all was yet another issue.
There was a deliberate effort by the opposition to undermine the
process. QPlease donQt cover for them [CUF],Q Karume said. The real
problem was that QCUF woke up too late to the reality of IDs [that
would now limit its ability to pad the voter list with fraudulent
supporters], and now they want us to meet their demands.

15. (U) On the role of Shehas in the process, Karume said they were
essential. Zanzibar, though small in area, had 50 constituencies.
On an island were Qeveryone knows everyone,Q Shehas were
instrumental in keeping track of Qwho comes in and who goes out.
Shehas Qknow what theyQre supposed to do,Q Karume asserted.

16. (SBU) Sweden made several efforts to draw Karume out on what
specific changes he might be prepared to make on the ground to bring
back on board those who were rejected when applying for IDs.
Karume insisted that all the right tools were in place. In his
view, observers should give the process time and hold those who
would obstruct the process responsible for any problems.

17. (SBU) Several times Karume suggested that the complaints by the
QFriends GroupQ were merely echoes of CUF, a charge rebutted by the
U.S. every time it was made. At one point, when responding to a
warning by President Karume to beware of self-serving statements
made by the opposition party, CDA Andre reminded that we "carefully
weigh statements made by both parties,Q to which an exasperated
Karume shouted, QI am not a party, I am the Administration!Q By the
end of the encounter, Karume even went as far as suggesting that the

DAR ES SAL 00000578 004 OF 005

QFriends GroupQ should vet any statement with the QAdministration
prior to Qrunning to the press.Q At the meeting's conclusion,
during the goodbye handshakes, CDA told President Karume that the
issue was being followed in the U.S. at the level of the White

18. (U) PRESS: The Joint Statement was covered broadly in mainland
press (front page news for most dailies) and editorials have been
sympathetic for the most part, particularly in the Swahili language
print media Nipashe and Mtanzania. By contrast, the CCM-controlled
newspaper Zanzibar Leo (the only daily published on the islands)
neither ran the statement nor even quoted from it. Yet, for several
days, Zanzibar Leo ran vituperative responses to the Joint
Statement. Following the meeting between Heads of Mission and
President Karume, national media took the positive spin offered by
FM Membe, that anomalies were being addressed by the SMZ and all who
were qualified would get their cards. The August 19 headline in
Zanzibar Leo, however, was QDr. Karume Educates Diplomats.Q In the
same issue were other stories about Q7849 uncollected ID cardsQ and
warnings of possible opposition perfidy. There also was an unusual
full page Qnews analysisQ bylined by QMohammed Juma,Q allegedly
reporting from Pemba. The QanalysisQ directly criticized QEU
diplomats,Q and suggested the Joint Statement violated the Vienna
Convention on Diplomatic Relations. The author called for the
diplomats to Qextend an apologyQ to Zanzibaris. He warned against
using development assistance Qas a gateway to defame and degrade
Tanzanians.Q A U.S. inquiry with the Zanzibar Leo office in Pemba
and with the SMZ Information Office in Pemba revealed no local
knowledge of QMohammed Juma.Q Nonetheless, local radio stations
(the number one source of information in Zanzibar) read out the
statement or summarized it and covered the commentary of the
mainland press.

19. (U) NEC/ZEC: Following a meeting in Pemba between ZEC and CUF
held at about the same time as our QFriendsQ meeting with Karume,
CUF decided not to participate in any registration process based on
Zanzibar IDs unless the ID application process is changed. On
August 25 ZEC released a press statement saying it could not proceed
with registration until there was a political settlement on the ID
issue. On August 29 ID Director Ame responded with a broadside
against ZEC, denying any problems with the ID process and calling
ZEC Qincompetent.Q Meanwhile, to follow-up on KarumeQs claim that
the National Electoral Commission (NEC) was protecting the rights of
those denied under the Zanzibari system (ZEC), we visited every
District in Pemba. There were no NEC staff present (although we saw
locked or abandoned offices marked for NEC use). We are still
investigating NECQs role in Zanzibar for 2010.

20 (U) ID PROCESS: It appears that the specific issue of lack of ID
forms at the Sheha level had been addressed for the most part,
although there still remained complaints about the ShehasQ partisan
role in the process. The issue of birth certificates and the
various complaints about impediments for first-time would-be ID
registrants continue. The registration of youths as adults still
seems to be occurring.

21. (U) We have seen thousands of unclaimed ID cards at every
District center, where none had been just two weeks ago. However,
among the populace there remains some confusion about the
availability of IDs for those who have already applied. CUF has
been slow to respond to this development, and leadership seems to
have issued no guidance for CUF cadres as to whether they will
assist their supporters to claim the IDs they heretofore had
complained were unavailable. We saw some approved ID applicants
show their receipts and claim their IDs that for whatever reason had
been unclaimed for years. Meanwhile, we also listened to others
complain that they were being asked to produce more documents before
they could collect their IDs. Others complained that CUF officers
had collected their receipts as Qevidence of CCM meddlingQ and
hadnQt returned them.

DAR ES SAL 00000578 005 OF 005

22. (SBU) The ID centers in Pemba are now swamped with dozens (if
not hundreds) of new applicants daily, now that application forms
seem more plentiful. To address this, ID centers have devised a
neighborhood-by-neighborhood process by which applicants can come to
collect their cards, and this system seems to be of some utility.
ID Card Chief Ame said there is an appeals process. There exists a
form (QForm 4Q) by which applicants can air grievances about all
aspects of the process, including direct complaints about Shehas and
District Commissioners. It is against the law for anyone to
obstruct or manipulate the ID process. Theoretically, the form is
to be sent directly to the ID HQ in Unguja, and Ame said he would
review each one personally. When asked, ID Center workers were
aware of the form, but none were on display (even after multiple
visits to ID offices over several days). On the ground, few people
(including CUF cadres) know about the form, and we know of no
appeals made so far. On obtaining birth certificates or, for those
born before 1964, swearing affidavits that no birth certificate
existed, there was confusion on the ground as to how this might be
done. Converting a Qregistration of birthQ document (that most
people seem to have) into a Qbirth certificateQ (the only paper
accepted by the ID Center) is a one-to-two month process, if all
goes correctly. Obtaining paperwork from scratch might be more
problematic. We have yet to see first-hand how older ID applicants
have obtained affidavits, although we have talked to dozens of older
men denied a card due to lack of documentation.

23. (U) Meanwhile, we have seen hundreds of Pemban ID cards
apparently issued during Qmass registrationQ (circa 2005-06) that
feature only a year for date of birth and QxQsQ for month and day.
Complaints of youth being registered as adults persist, and we have
talked to a couple of people issued cards who admitted to us they
were underage. Both CUF and CCM claim that each side has imported
people from the nearby mainland city of Tanga to pad the process,
but we have seen no evidence of this.

24. (U) OTHER OBSERVATIONS: The week of August 17 SMZ Education
Minister Haroun visited Pemba to speak to school administrators and
community leaders and urge them not to push underage school children
into the political process. He also tamped down growing local panic
that ID cards would be required for advanced education exams. On
August 26, representatives of the (national) Commission on Human
Rights and Good Governance went to Pemba to look into the ID
issuance process.

25. (SBU) In Pemba, almost everyone with whom we spoke commented
favorably on the Joint Statement. Many credited it with giving
cover for an extension of the Qtime outQ in order for ZEC and others
to hold more discussions with the various players in the Pemba
registration/ID process. Tensions that resulted in violence leading
up to the Joint Statement appear to have subsided for now, although
they could flare up immediately should any one side take any
unilateral action. It appears that our Joint Statement lessened
frustration on the island, reassuring Zanzibaris that recent events
were not occurring in a vacuum, hidden from outside eyes. It served
to reassure that the international community cared about the
fairness of elections in Tanzania and assuaged some cynics that
donors were not acquiescent to any Zanzibari Government


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