Zanzibar in the News

26 09 2009

Not the Zanzibar violence again!

By Adam Lusekelo,
23rd September 2009
THIS is very depressing. Are we going to witness violence after violence after every five years in Zenj? Why is particular attention being given to the Pemba Islands, not to breathe easy and suffocate democracy? This just cannot go on forever.
From what the nation hears and sees — women in tears, people being beaten, a CUF MP being questioned by police while squatting on the ground, foreign governments crying foul over the deeds in Pemba, and now the bullets and tear gassing of people in the Isles, any rational man will be tempted to believe that something is indeed amiss.
Under the Zanzibar electoral laws, Zan-ID is a prerequisite for registration in the Permanent Voter Register (PVR). Now there have been some clashes, particular in Pemba, between police and residents who have been denied Zan IDs but want to register for the 2010 polls.
The affected people accuse authorities in Zanzibar and the ZEC of deliberately planning to deny them their right to take part in next year’s general elections. ZEC has denied the allegations.
ZEC is always good at denying to hanky panky in Pemba. But why should there be trouble there? You just can’t keep on lying forever. Their (ZEC) response now has been bombing of tear-gas canisters from helicopters.
Trying to tell us that the people of Pemba are just born trouble makers in every election year will no longer wash. The people of Pemba islands have a case to make. Said one: “It is not that we do not want them (CCM) to be registered but why only them who have been given the IDs?”
This was after reports that fights erupted after CUF supporters attempted to block CCM members from registering at a voting centre in Pemba. Another Pemba fellow called Ame: “All of us and our children have not been issued with Zan IDs. Are we not Zanzibaris?” Indeed.
Why are the people of Pemba being treated like second-class citizens in their own country? Because, if that is the case, then why hold elections in the first place? Why try to lie to the world that democracy is being practiced in the beautiful islands of Africa, while its people are being suppressed with guns and tear-gassed to submission.
I always maintain that those guns and tear gasses look quite impressive – for awhile. The leaders feel safe as they sip their spiced tea. But only for awhile. The Zanzibar Government must find a political solution to the now very embarrassing scenario which comes to Isles come election time.
The people of Pemba have got their preferences, which are well known. Nobody can force them to change heart by force, least of all beat them up, tear gas them silly and prevent them from their democratic right to vote.
This just cannot go on forever and the last thing the Zanzibar Government wants is face the people with their backs to the wall.




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