Tuesday, 20 July 2010 11:08
By Salma Said, Zanzibar
Supporters of the referendum slated for July 31 have launched massive campaign to rally people behind their move as those opposed to the proposition of forming a government of national unity fail to come in the open.
The ‘YES’ camp campaign was launched in Pemba on Sunday in a well attended concert and yesterday a number of rallies were held in various areas in the island to sensitize people to give a nod to the proposals contained in the referendum.
The concert was partly funded by the Tanzania Centre for Democracy (TCD). Some of the funds provided by the Centre were used to purchase campaign materials such as posters.
Addressing one such rally, the Civic United Front (CUF) secretary general, Mr Seif Shariff Hamad, said ‘yes’ vote in the referendum would help to cement Zanzibar unity. He said Zanzibar has reached a point where it needs a government of national unity to solve its prolonged political problems.
“The government of national unity is needed for the interests of Zanzibaris and the country,” he said noting that the referendum was historical move which has been facilitated by the House Representative enactment of the law.
According to Maalim Seif, what is sought in Zanzibat was the government of national unity and not a coalition government as purported by some people. Explaining, he said the coalition government is formed in a situation where an election fails to produce an outright winner like what happened in UK in May.
“As opposed to that situation, the government of national unity is formed after agreements that participants of the election should be given chance to participate in the resultant government,” he said.
He rallied Pemba residents to vote ‘yes’ for the referendum as it would help to solve long standing political problems, which were source of economic and social hardships experienced by Zanzibaris for many years.
He noted that Zanzibar had had seven multi-party elections, four before 1964 revolution and three after the revolution but none has managed to uncontested results. He said the new system which has been agreed would ensure that all parties which participate in the election were given chance to participate in the unity government.
“If people vote yes, the House of Representatives will meet on August 9 to make necessary constitutional changes that would officially recognise the new governing system where we will have a president and two vice presidents, the first from the party which takes second slot in the election and second, who will also be the leader of government business in the House of Representatives will come from the winning party,” he clarified.
In the meantime, six members of a team formed by the House of Representatives continues with giving voter education, while reports have emerged that there are several leaders who have been misleading wananchi on the meaning of the referendum.
This was said during a two days symposium held in Malindi where some participants said street leaders, (Shehas) and some representatives have been misleading people on referendum.
The participants were also amazed by the stance shown by some representatives who supported the referendum motion when it was brought in the House for debate but were now campaigning against it, albeit underground.
Meanwhile, the Head of the United Nations in Tanzania and UNDP Resident Representative, Albéric Kacou, said yesterday that the organisation was not supporting any camp in the ongoing referendum campaigns in Zanzibar.
A statement issued yesterday quoted him as saying the upcoming July 31 Zanzibar referendum “is a positive step forward and avails all Zanzibaris with an opportunity to contribute to the design of the future government of Zanzibar.”
“No matter what the referendum outcome may be, the United Nations in Tanzania stands ready to assist the elected government of Zanzibar to face future development challenges,” he added.
The UN Head also emphasised the importance of voting in the referendum, noting that high participation will lend credibility to the referendum result.
The United Nations, through the multi-donor UNDP Elections Support Project, is providing technical assistance to the Zanzibar Electoral Commission (ZEC). ZEC is solely responsible for organising and managing the July 31 Zanzibar referendum.
UNDP technical assistance for the referendum includes the purchase of ink, stamps, ballot papers and ballot boxes; software for the speedy and transparent reporting of results; funds for training of ZEC poll workers and funds for information material about when and where to vote on referendum day.
Most of the funds for the referendum are provided by the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar. The UNDP Resident Representative informed that the UNDP logos seen on some voter information material is a signal of funding support only. He emphasised that UNDP is not responsible for the content of voter education material and that UNDP has no role in referendum organisation or management, tasks managed entirely by ZEC.
Mr Kacou also said he was impressed by ZEC’s level of preparedness for the referendum, which it achieved in a very short time after being given the mandate to conduct the referendum only in June.
Source: The Citizen