Cablegate: Zanzibar Legislature Votes for Unity Government

DE RUEHDR #0107/01 0341442
P 031442Z FEB 10





E.O. 12958: N/A

REFS: (A) Dar es Salaam 10 and previous (B) 09 Dar es Salaam 901

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(U) 1. SUMMARY: On January 29, the unicameral Zanzibar House of
Representatives adopted as law a bill that outlines the parameters
of a "Government of National Unity" and calls for a popular
referendum on the plan. The plan eliminates the office of the
Chief Minister and instead calls for two Vice Presidents. The
"senior" Vice President would be from the opposition party
garnering the greatest number of votes (i.e. first runner-up) but have
undefined duties, while the second VP would come from the same party as
the President and serve as a de-facto Chief Minister. The second VP
would also replace the President in the event of death or
incapacitation. Ministers would be chosen among both parties in
proportion to their representation in Parliament. The bill
appoints a six-member committee (3 ruling CCM party/3 opposition
CUF) to oversee implementation of the referendum process. In
theory, both parties will campaign in favor of the referendum.
Hotly debated issues like power sharing before October 2010
elections, or postponing the elections or extending current
President Karume's term in any way, have been put to rest. END

(U) 2. Late January 29, Zanzibar House of Representatives Chairman
Ali Mzee Ali (of the ruling Chama Cha Mapunduzi (CCM), translated
from Kiswahili as "Revolutionary Party") gaveled as adopted a draft
bill submitted by CUF Minority Whip Seif Bakhari for a Unity
Government (informal Embassy translation of the bill as adopted
para. 24).


(U) 3. As a practical matter, the Unity Government Bill amends
Zanzibar's Electoral Act to allow for a popular referendum.
Zanzibar never before held a popular vote on matters of governance,
not for past amendments to the Constitution, nor even for its very
adoption nor for the Union with Tanganyika (creation of Tanzania).

The bill empowers the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC) to
conduct the referendum. It reaffirms the intent to stick to the
planned calendar for General Elections (i.e., by October 2010). It
also calls on the House to vote into law (should a referendum agree
to it) a Unity Government, and outlines what key changes to the existin
ruling structure that would entail (see para. 4 below).


(U) 4. The biggest change to Zanzibar's existing government would
be to abolish the position of Chief Minister. Instead, there would
be two Vice Presidents - a "First" Vice President and a "Second"
Vice President. The number two VP would be a de facto Chief
Minister (and would be a position held by the same party as the
President, likely to be CCM), while the "First VP" (likely to be
held by CUF) would be largely ceremonial, like the current Union VP.
Regional commissioners, while still appointed by the President,
would be "de-politicized" and no longer have a role in the
legislature. Ministers would be selected among both parties in
proportion to their representation in Parliament.


(SBU) 5. Prior to the house session, CUF made loud noises about
extending the rule of Karume, arguing that he was the only one who
could "guarantee" implementation of any power sharing agreement
(Karume is limited by the constitution to two five-year terms, his
second and last term ends with the October 2010 elections). CUF
argued that none of the other possible CCM candidates (save "dark
horse" contender Mohammed Aboud- ref B) were outspoken in favor of

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power-sharing, so could not be entrusted to implement a post-
election unity-government deal. However, no one outside CUF-
including Karume himself- was in favor of this idea, and it was
dropped. The establishment of a six-person "implementation team"
is likely the compromise that was reached for CUF to drop that
demand. At the same time, CCM hardliners had argued to accept the
"principals of reconciliation as agreed to by the parties," but
wanted to leave the details of implementation to the next in-coming
president. This was the only key point that CCM eventually gave-in on.

(SBU) 6. Whereas the law is vague about the implementation team, it
is apparent from the House debate on the matter that its scope and
mandate would be watered down from what CUF intended.
CUF wanted "oversight" authorities for the team, endowing it with
directive authorities across lines of bureaucracy (especially with
the ZEC), with no less than CCM and CUF party leaders Karume and
Seif Sharif as members and including the Chief Minister and Attorney
General. CCM said there were no CUF equivalents to those latter
two positions, however. In the end, the body will serve only an
"advisor" role to the House, while the members will be picked by
President Karume. House Minority Whip Abubakar Khamis Bakary, a
Constitutional lawyer by training (and drafter of the original
bill), told us he would likely chair for the CUF side, while
Constitutional Affairs and Good Governance Minister Ramadan Abdulla
Shabaan might serve for the CCM side. The others are unknown at
this time, awaiting CCM party wrangling over the deal (see paras.
5 and 22 below).

(U) 7. The issue of holding a referendum was a key compromise by
CUF. In Spring 2008 CCM insistence on this measure was a deal
killer for the third and final round of peace talks between CUF and
CCM (called "Muafaka"). Most local observers (and even moderate CCM
members) agree that a referendum was not technically necessary to
form a unity government. Nonetheless, it was a position staked out
by the CCM national party apparatus. By honoring that requirement,
CUF essentially "called CCM's bluff" as to whether CCM would go
along with power sharing at all. It also gave political cover to
CCM moderates who could be publicly seen as supporting
reconciliation and the CCM party line simultaneously. Few, if any,
doubt that a referendum will pass, especially since both party
leaderships, having supported the referendum bill, in theory are
committed to campaign in favor of it.

(U) 8. CUF concerns that CCM might not abide by its 2008 ad
referendum agreement on power sharing were well-founded since at
the last hour CCM pushed CUF back from Muafaka positions both
parties once had agreed upon. The CCM National Executive Committee
(NEC) had previously acquiesced to a power-sharing deal of one
Minister (and perhaps a Regional Commissioner) seat for every five
percent of the vote earned by any party during General Elections. More
recently, CUF even agreed to accept the numbers from the flawed
2005 elections to determine proportionality. However, this time
around CCM insisted on sharing posts only "in proportionality to the
constituency seats" in the House of Representatives, a further
watering down from the original agreement. Counting Presidential
appointees to the House, CCM currently enjoys a two-thirds majority

(U) 9. CUF fought hard to get some say in selection of local
leaders, from the community level (called "Shehas"), through
District Commissioners up to Regional Commissioners. However, in
the end CCM pushed back and upheld the status quo: All local
leaders will remain Presidential appointees. Meanwhile,
eliminating Regional Commissioners from the legislature was a fig-
leaf concession. CCM made that move on the mainland years ago.

(U) 10. Clearly, the biggest compromise was elimination of the
Chief Minister role: CUF will not have the partnership role it
envisioned. Moreover, "section vi" (see para. 24 below) of the law
further limits CUF from diverging too much from the CCM party line

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in any "Unity Government." Absent a shared coalition governing
platform, any CUF Ministers in a CCM-led government would be
statutorily bound to follow the CCM party line.

--------------------------------------------- --

(SBU) 11. As to the atmospherics, much debate was about Zanzibar
history and the legacy of the revolution - a Zanzibar first. There
seemed to be a genuine willingness by some to bury the hatchet,
whereas several hardliners spoke vehemently about "preserving the
revolution." One hardline CCM legislator even went as far as to
call for an amendment to end multiparty elections. However,
because almost a third of the House seats were Presidential
appointees, an "absolute majority" of Karume loyalists within the
House CCM ranks carried the day. In the end, CCM's absolute
majority leveraged key compromises from CUF. CUF remained pragmatic an
united and accepted almost all the changes demanded by CCM and did not
rise to any of CCM's baiting on or off the floor. (CUF leaders have
told us that they believe getting their own ministries and seats at the
cabinet for the first time since the '64 revolution is all that
matters. They can then increase their vote share through superior
performance and by demonstrating that a vote for CUF is not a
wasted vote.)

(U) 12. House Chairman Ali Mzee Ali also did a masterful job of
cajoling, threatening (and using private diplomacy outside the
House) to engineer a unanimous voice vote (at one point he hinted
he might do a secret ballot.) In the end, there was cheering
across the aisle and even some tears of joy and bewilderment. Most
of those in the chambers said the event was tantamount to a second

(U) 13. When Mzee Ali made his intervention in the debate,
switching from Kiswahili to English, he dramatically read a
paragraph from Ambassador Lenhardt's recent editorial, repeating
the words of the Ambassador, "For the sake of the people of
Zanzibar and of all of Tanzania, let 2010 be the year of Zanzibar's
reconciliation." Zanzibar Affairs Specialist also noted that the
House registrar (who maintains official documents of the House) had wit
him copies of the Ambassador's editorial.

(U) 14. A final surprise to the evening was that after gaveling
through the Unity Bill, House Chairman Ali Mzee announced the
creation of a co-chairperson position. There was immediate
wrangling between a CUF and CCM candidate, but after several
interventions, the CUF candidate withdrew his name "in the spirit
of reconciliation," and Thuwaida Kisasi (daughter of a prominent
revolutionary who helped topple the Sultan) will be Zanzibar's
first female Chair.


(U) 15. The following is a rough activities calendar of upcoming
Zanzibar political events:

-- CCM Party apparatchiks will now meet and chew on the latest
developments and work on names for the six-person "implementing
committee" (as well as start the wrangling for a new President (and
possible Vice President and ministerial slots).

-- The "Special Committee" of the National Executive Council (NEC)
- i.e. the Zanzibar Caucus- will meet Feb 2-3 in the margins of the
ongoing Tanzania's Union Parliament session in Dodoma.

-- The all-powerful CCM "Central Committee" (made up of Kikwete,
Karume & former Presidents and other heavy weights), will meet Feb. 8.

-- Then, the NEC will meet Feb 9-10 to take a final position on the

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recently adopted Unity Bill.

-- A 6-person "implementation panel" (3 CUF/3 CCM) will be

-- ZEC will need to get started on conducting a referendum: The
first order of business would be to complete the Permanent Voters
List (PVR).

-- A referendum on the proposed Constitutional changes is targeted
for May.

-- Also in May, parties must declare election candidates to

-- Mid-June: Zanzibar House of Representatives reconvenes and
adopts new modalities for a Unity Government (if approved by
referendum); this must be finished by early August.

-- Mid-August: Campaign season begins.

(U) 16. General Elections in Zanzibar and the mainland are still
anticipated by October 2010. (Note: A simple majority vote in the
House could postpone elections until end of the year without any
special mechanism -like in 2005 when the Vice President died- but
neither party currently wants this)


(SBU) 17. Questions remain on how ZEC will set up the referendum
and whether that and the subsequent General Election will be free
and fair. The first round of voter I.D. has been completed already,
but the second round has been delayed by ZEC "for technical
reasons." Most believe that it was paused to await an outcome to
the Unity Government debate. The controversial issue of the use of
the Zanzibar I.D. card as the main criterion for voting remains
(ZanIDs heretofore have been seen to be issued along partisan lines
by the ruling CCM party).

(SBU) 18. Up to now, opposition CUF has been saying that as much as
40 percent of eligible Zanzibaris have been sidelined from the
registration process, particularly in the northern Pemba Island
areas that constitutes CUF's stronghold, the first place scheduled
for the next round of voter registration. Meanwhile, CUF itself
had heretofore been boycotting the registration process.


(SBU) 19. At a January 25 meeting with the Ambassador on a
different topic, Tanzanian Foreign Minister Membe brought up the
subject of Zanzibar. The view of the Union Government was that it
could accept a Zanzibar Constitutional change to allow some form of
power sharing, but it was dead-set against any extension of
Karume's mandate or change to the General Electoral calendar.
Membe's chief concern with the calendar was that it could not
conflict with CCM party elections, expected in 2013. At the end,
Membe said "We are ready to accept any pro-union party." The French
Ambassador reported a similar conversation with the Foreign
Minister around the same time frame.

(SBU) 20. A friend of the Embassy on the NEC, a Zanzibari in the
Union government close to Kikwete, said he was generally satisfied
with the turn of events. The main thing for him was that the
electoral calendar would likely be unchanged and the legislative
framework for a unity government would already be in place for a
new (CCM) Zanzibar President to implement. Our friend said that
focus should be on the replacement for Karume. A good-faith
candidate would implement reconciliation "in spirit," regardless of

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whatever specific details of power-sharing were being haggled over


(SBU) 21. There remain several unanswered questions, the most
salient of which might be: why would CUF accept a deal that
preemptively assumes a CCM victory in the next elections, and,
having done so, why would CUF agree to such a minor role in the
next CCM-led government? "One Minister is more than we have ever
had," a senior Pemban CUF leader told Zanzibar Affairs Officer (the
"we" in that sentence referring both to CUF and to the marginalized
second island of Zanzibar, Pemba - a CUF stronghold). Another
reason is that many are tired of the violence. Absent a deal of
any kind, few had any doubts that the 2010 elections would be
bloody (they still might be, if expectations rise too high and
things go wrong). Nonetheless, many still question the motives of
CUF leader Seif Sharif Hamad, and wonder what the "deal inside the
deal" might be. All that notwithstanding, CUF took big risks while
negotiating from a very weak position. CUF rank and file feel like
their 15-year struggle for recognition has been validated. It is
all smiles in the CUF camp for now.

(SBU) 22. Except for President Kikwete, who has expressed support
for reconciliation, most national CCM leaders (like the Prime
Minster responding to a direct question in Parliament January 28)
have deferred public pronouncement, saying "it's a Zanzibar
matter." This is likely an effort not to prejudge upcoming closed-
door CCM talks (see para. 15 above). The CCM intra-party debate
may prove to be white-hot. Many CCM hardliners (especially those
on the main island of Unguja and on the mainland who might not
appreciate the volatile situation on Pemba) continue to grumble
about why CCM would want to give up anything at all if it did not
have to. The mood in CCM for now is a curmudgeonly "harrumph!"
The ambitious ones in the party are watching the powerful faction
leaders and waiting to dog pile onto any emerging consensus in hope
of party rewards.

(SBU) 23. In the dusty lanes and narrow alleys of Zanzibar, most
people are oblivious to recent events or confused as to what is
actually happening. The unity deal has not been fully explained by
the media. The politically savvy instantly see the compromises
made and, fearing abuses, worry about the ambiguities of the
agreement where power politics will come into play. They remain
skeptical but have no other alternatives for now. The vast
majority of Zanzibaris are in survival-hibernation mode since the
main island continues to suffer through a 100 percent collapse of
the power grid since early December. Meanwhile, government
technocrats are scrambling to put electoral structures into place.
Registration of Voters could begin in late February. The first
location for the second round of voter screening will be in Konde,
Northern Pemba, scene of a near riot just last summer. The
beginning of the second round of voter ID will be the first real
test of "reconciliation."


(U) 24. Begin text of Zanzibar Unity Government Bill, as adopted:

Having deliberated on a Private Motion tabled by Hon. Abubakar
Khamis Bakary, the Representative of Mgogoni, Pemba, the House of
Representatives resolves to accept some of its submissions and
amend others. Here below is the resolution by the House of

(i) The House of Representatives commends reconciliation talks
between the President of Zanzibar, Chairman of the Revolutionary
Council and Vice Chairman of CCM- Zanzibar, Dr. Amani Abeid Karume

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and Secretary General of CUF Maalim Seif Shariff Hamad held on
November 5th 2009.

(ii) Principally, the House accepts that there is a need for
conducting a referendum to directly solicit citizen consent to the
proposal for the establishment of the Government of National Unity
in Zanzibar and in determining its structure.

(iii) The proposed structure is that of having an Executive
President who shall be a person who has won the most votes in the
Presidential Election, assisted by two Vice Presidents. The first
Vice President shall be appointed from a Political Party attaining
the second position in the presidential election. The Second Vice
President shall come from the party of the President and shall
serve as the government's leader in the House of Representatives,
and he/she shall be the one taking over the Presidency upon the
occurrence of an unfortunate event.

(iv) The House of Representatives agrees that under this structure,
the President shall appoint Ministers from among Members of the
House of Representatives in proportionality to the constituency
seats their political parties hold in the House of Representatives.

(v) The House of Representatives emphasizes that the formulated
Government of National Unity shall respect and value the principles
of the January 12th, 1964 Revolution of Zanzibar.

(vi) The House accepts that the President shall have a
constitutional authority to reprimand any person within the
government of national unity who will be seen/found to be
deliberately frustrating efficient and effective execution of the
functions of the Government.

(vii) As soon as possible, the Government should submit to the
House of Representative a proposed Bill for the Amendment of the
Zanzibar Electoral Act (No. 11 of 1984), with a view to put in
place procedures, terms and conditions for conducting a referendum,
as well as giving the Zanzibar Electoral Commission mandate to
supervise and conduct a referendum on important issues that require
people's consent or decision.

(viii) If the people of Zanzibar through the referendum consent to
the formulation of the Government of National Unity, the Government
should prepare and present to the House of Representatives a Bill
for the Amendment of the Constitution of Zanzibar to align it with
peoples' decision/wishes. The amendment shall focus on articles of
constitution that will need to be changed to accommodate the new
form of government, including articles 9, 39 and 42.

(ix) The House of Representatives resolves to take Regional
Commissioners out of politics (i.e. they shall not be members of
the House of Representatives) and that they shall be appointed by
the President at his/her own discretion.

(x) The House of Representatives agrees that the procedure for the
appointment of District Commissioners should remain as it is at the

(xi) The House of Representatives approves the formulation of a six
member committee - three from the Government and three from the
opposition- to oversee the implementation of this resolution to its

(xii) The amendment of the Election Act, the referendum soliciting
people's consent, and Constitutional amendment should the people
approve the formulation of the Government of a National Unity,
should be done before the 2010 general election.


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