Cablegate: Zanzibar Legislature Votes for Unity Government

DE RUEHDR #0095/01 0331223
P 021223Z FEB 10





E.O. 12958: N/A

REFS: (A) Dar es Salaam 10 and previous (B) 09 Dar es Salaam 901
(U) 1. SUMMARY: On January 29, the unicameral Zanzibar House of
Representatives adopted as law a bill that outlines the parameters
of a QGovernment of National UnityQ 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 Qsenior
Vice President would be from the opposition party garnering the
greatest number f 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 KarumeQs
term in any way have been put to rest. END SUMMARY.

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(U) 2. Late January 29, Zanzibar House of Representatives Chairman
Ali Mzee Ali (of the ruling Chama Cha Mapunduzi (CCM), translated
from Kiswahili as QRevolutionary PartyQ) 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
ZanzibarQs 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
existing ruling structure that would entail (see para. 4 below).


(U) 4. The biggest change to ZanzibarQs existing government would be
to abolish the position of Chief Minister. Instead, there would be
two Vice Presidents Q a QFirstQ Vice President and a QSecondQ 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 QFirst VPQ (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
Qde-politicizedQ 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 QguaranteeQ 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 Qdark
horseQ contender Mohammed Aboud- ref B) were outspoken in favor of
power-sharing, so could not be entrusted to implement a
post-election unity-government deal. However, no one outside
CUFQincluding Karume himself- was in favor of this idea, and it was
dropped. The establishment of a six-person Qimplementation teamQ is

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likely the compromise that was reached for CUF to drop that demand.
At the same time, CCM hardliners had argued to accept the
Qprincipals of reconciliation as agreed to by the parties,Q 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

(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
QoversightQ 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
QadvisorQ 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 QMuafakaQ). 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 Qcalled CCMQs bluffQ 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 Qin proportionality to the
constituency seatsQ in the House of Representatives, a further

DAR ES SAL 00000095 003.2 OF 008

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 QShehasQ), 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, Qsection viQ (see para. 24 below) of the law further
limits CUF from diverging too much from the CCM party line in any
QUnity Government.Q 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 Q a Zanzibar first. There
seemed to be a genuine willingness by some to bury the hatchet,
whereas several hardliners spoke vehemently about Qpreserving the
revolution.Q 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
Qabsolute majorityQ of Karume loyalists within the House CCM ranks
carried the day. In the end, CCMQs absolute majority leveraged key
compromises from CUF. CUF remained pragmatic and united and
accepted almost all the changes demanded by CCM and did not rise to
any of CCMQs 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 Q64 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

(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

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Ambassador LenhardtQs recent editorial, repeating the words of the
Ambassador, QFor the sake of the people of Zanzibar and of all of
Tanzania, let 2010 be the year of ZanzibarQs reconciliation.
Zanzibar Affairs Specialist also noted that the House registrar (who
maintains official documents of the House) had with him copies of
the AmbassadorQs 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 Qin the spirit of
reconciliation,Q and Thuwaida Kisasi (daughter of a prominent
revolutionary who helped topple the Sultan) will be ZanzibarQs 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 Qimplementing
committeeQ (as well as start the wrangling for a new President (and
possible Vice President and ministerial slots).

-- The QSpecial CommitteeQ of the National Executive Council (NEC)
i.e. the Zanzibar CaucusQwill meet Feb 2-3 in the margins of the
ongoing TanzaniaQs Union Parliament session n Dodoma.

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

-- Then, the NEC will meet Feb 9-10 to take a final position on the
recently adopted Unity Bill.

-- A 6-person Qimplementation panelQ (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

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-- 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 Qlike in 2005 when the Vice President diedQ 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 Qfor 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 CUFQs 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 KarumeQs
mandate or change to the General Electoral calendar. MembeQs chief
concern with the calendar was that it could not conflict with CCM
party elections, expected in 2013. At the end, Membe said QWe are
ready to accept any pro-union party.Q 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

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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 Qin spirit,Q regardless of whatever
specific details of power-sharing were being haggled over now.


(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? QOne Minister is more than we have ever had,Q a
senior Pemban CUF leader told Zanzibar Affairs Officer (the QweQ in
that sentence referring both to CUF and to the marginalized second
island of Zanzibar, Pemba Q 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 Qdeal inside the dealQ 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 QitQs 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 Qharrumph!Q 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

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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 Qreconciliation.


(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
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 governmentQs 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

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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
peopleQs 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
peoplesQ 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 as it is at the

(xi) The House of Representatives approves the formulation of a six
member committee Q 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
peopleQs 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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