Scotland and Zanzibar, more union questions

Tanzania’s more internationally-minded political thinkers watched Scotland’s Independence Referendum last week with much interest. The question on everyone’s lips was this: what does the decision made by Scottish voters to remain part of the United Kingdom mean for Zanzibar and the United Republic?

It is a reasonable question, because the similarities between Scotland’s relationship with England / the UK and Zanzibar’s relationship with Tanzania mainland are strong. The two smaller, once-independent nations both have understandable resentment towards the bigger, dominant partner in their unions. Constitutional oddities mean neither England nor Mainland Tanzania have their own parliament, while Scotland has a parliament and Zanzibar has a “revolutionary council”. There are oil and gas revenues to argue over in both cases, and endless disputes about who is subsidising who. And Britain’s relationship with the European Union is not that different from Tanzania’s uncertainty about the East African Community.

But though the question may be valid, the answers have been very mixed. I’ve gathered a collection of quotes – pasted in full at the end of this post – but it breaks down into three main arguments.

  1. People in Scotland have turned down independence, so people in Zanzibar clearly must think the same way.

Director of Ideology and Publicity for CCM, Nape Nnauye:

“Scotland’s outcome has shut up the mouths of those fighting for the Tanganyika and Zanzibar separation. They wanted to use the results to build their case for our separation, but things have turned out differently. This shows globally that people prefer unity.”

The same party’s Secretary General, Adbulrahman Kinana:

“This issue of Scotland has taught us a great lesson. We have learned that it is a good idea to remain in the union and that politicians have no right to attempt to influence the decisions of members of the public.”

On Jamii Forums:

“These Scottish “Ukawa” people thought they would win and they would trick the voters into agreeing with them, but people voted no to independence. Here, the real Ukawa believe they can tempt people into agreeing to three governments (i.e. to break the union), but they will lose when there’s a referendum on the new constitution.”

  1. Unity is (always) strength.

Dr Benson Bana, University of Dar es Salaam:

“Disunity is weakness, and history will judge those who oppose unity. Developed nations continue to cherish unity, as opposed to some individuals here who advocate for separation.”

Columnist, Owden Kyambile:

“What is needed in our case is to follow the example, rather than struggling to split the union, unity is always strength. The claim that we could be better and stronger if divided is not wise, it would be the source of unrest.”

  1. The Scots have shown political maturity, now let’s have our own referendum.

Political commentator, Stanislaus Kigosi:

“Yes, Scotland and England have a long history which involved wars but in recent times they opted for open dialogue, which gave birth to the referendum. In Tanzania, we don’t work that way. Our politicians are not sincere in the way they handle the situation and instead a cloud of secrecy hovers over the Union.”

On the Zanzibari blog, mzalendo.net:

“My call is for those in authority to also ask us, the citizens of these countries, what form of union government we want and what changes we would like. We need a referendum to ask us openly what direction we want, not for parties to carry the reins and intentions of citizens.”

And Chambi Chachage, on his Udadisi blog:

“What about Zanzibar? What would happen if Zanzibaris were given the chance to vote? Would they decide to separate from Tanzania? The answer lies with Zanzibaris themselves. To get it, they will first need to get the opportunity. … Let us now decide. If we really want to break and remake our country we should call a referendum on Zanzibar.”

And let me squeeze in a fourth point as well. This line from an editorial column in the (Tz) Guardian, must take the title of biggest misunderstanding of British politics:

“the people of Scotland trust British democracy and impartiality of the monarch, and the influence she exercises on institutions, to ensure that everyone keeps within bounds and limitations of constitutionality, and indeed tries his or her best in so doing. Without that voice of moderation a few things could go to the brink, surely.”

Hmmm.

There may or may not be any strength and logic to these arguments, but I think the real lesson may lie elsewhere – in the detail of the Scottish situation, and in England.

In the final days of the campaign, when a yes vote began to look possible, the leaders of all three of Britain’s leading political parties panicked. They promised that if Scots voted no, they would devolve a lot more powers (and money) to the Scottish Parliament.

That sounds a lot like CCM’s argument in Tanzania – we don’t want to split into two countries, they say, or even to have a federal, three-government, structure, so instead we will hand back some powers to Zanzibar.

The response in the UK? Well, the Scots voted no to independence. But MPs in England, particularly those of the ruling Conservative Party, are angry. Why is England subsidising Scotland, they ask, and why do Scottish MPs get to vote on issues like schools and hospitals that don’t directly affect their constituencies?

There are now demands for an English parliament, more or less separate from the current British parliament. In terms that will be familiar to anyone following Tanzania’s constitutional debate, these English MPs are calling for Britain to have a three government structure.

CCM leaders may be cheering the result from Scotland, but they should wait until the final whistle. They may not like what they find.

– – – – –

Further reading:

Two insightful posts that predate the Scottish referendum:

Two from after the vote, from Tanzania’s pair of star columnists in the East African:

And finally, Evarist Chahali, a Tanzanian columnist resident in Scotland, has done a sterling job explaining the whole process to a Tanzanian audience.

– – – – –

More Collected Quotes on Zanzibar and Scotland

In no particular order.

Let me start with the Secretary General of CCM, Adbulrahman Kinana, reported in the Daily News (and also in Mwananchi):

“This issue of Scotland has taught us a great lesson. We have learned that it is a good idea to remain in the union and that politicians have no right to attempt to influence the decisions of members of the public.”

“Many people thought that Scotland would, certainly, separate from the UK. However, during the referendum, the pubic voted differently. This should be a lesson to us.”

“It has never happened before that 85 per cent of Scottish people vote to agree on the separation issue. This shows that people prefer to be in a union for stability.”

The same party’s Director of Ideology and Publicity, Nape Nnauye, was quoted in the same article:

“Scotland’s outcome has shut up the mouths of those fighting for the Tanganyika and Zanzibar separation. They wanted to use the results to build their case for our separation, but things have turned out differently. This shows globally that people prefer unity.”

An editorial column in the (Tanzanian) Guardian newspaper argued that:

“the people of Scotland trust British democracy and impartiality of the monarch, and the influence she exercises on institutions, to ensure that everyone keeps within bounds and limitations of constitutionality, and indeed tries his or her best in so doing. Without that voice of moderation a few things could go to the brink, surely.”

“separation becomes a negative term for countries that are democratic, but for undemocratic regimes, separating a part of the country is another way of attaining democracy.”

“There is North Sea oil that is generally attached to Scotland. … In many regards that is also true of Tanzania, that a Zanzibar awash with oil and gas would be more prosperous on its own than if it was part of the union. … What many separatists do not realize is that an islet with fabulous natural resources soon descends into non-governability, as the stakes of taking the state rise.”

“Many of those who wish for a united Tanzania have every reason to be elated on the outcome of the UK vote, especially as it tells on voters having greater confidence in the overall national institutions than in the promises or capacities of their own politicians.”

Writing in Nipashe, Owden Kyambile:

“What is needed in our case is to follow the example, rather than struggling to split the union, unity is always strength. The claim that we could be better and stronger if divided is not wise, it would be the source of unrest.”

The same article quoted Dr Mallya of the Open University of Tanzania making a different point:

“Tanzania learns that it is possible to have a strong union without violence.”

Dr Benson Bana of the University of Dar es Salaam was quoted in another Daily News article:

“Disunity is weakness, and history will judge those who oppose unity. Developed nations continue to cherish unity, as opposed to some individuals here who advocate for separation.

And in the same article, Prof Salmon Salehe Omar:

“Careful assessment of views aired by proponents of disunity will reveal some hidden individualistic ambitions. Men and women will come and go but the nation (Tanzania) will remain.”

The Citizen quoted political commentator Stanislaus Kigosi:

“Yes, Scotland and England have a long history which involved wars but in recent times they opted for open dialogue, which gave birth to the referendum. In Tanzania, we don’t work that way. Our politicians are not sincere in the way they handle the situation and instead a cloud of secrecy hovers over the Union.”

Now to Tanzania’s two bright lights in the East African. First, Jenerali Ulimwengu:

“So what are these mzungus arguing about? That after 300 years of two united crowns doing so well, apparently, these people are doubting the logic of continuing together? Have they forgotten that when they came to us and claimed us as theirs they were together?”

“Three hundred years during which the United Kingdom presented itself to the world as a mighty nation, one and united, cannot be taken in vain, unless we were conned, we Africans, just as so often before, and since, we have been had.”

And his colleague, Elsie Eyakuze:

“Tribal is a word not used when talking about minority issues and identity politics in developed countries, but from here in East Africa, there is something rather comfortingly familiar about the Scottish independence quest.”

“One of the most compelling factors of the Independence movement in the sixties was its ability to rally disparate peoples under the banner of freedom. And isn’t it interesting that this very same notion of freedom can be used to tear apart existing territories to give rise to new ones based on identities that more often than not pre-date our countries?”

“Generation Independence may have rewritten our histories to suit its nation-building agenda, but somehow tribalism refuses to die.”

On the Zanzibari blog, mzalendo.net:

“My call is for those in authority to also ask us, the citizens of these countries, what form of union government we want and what changes we would like. We need a referendum to ask us openly what direction we want, not for parties to carry the reins and intentions of citizens.”

And Chambi Chachage, on his Udadisi blog:

“What about Zanzibar? What would happen if Zanzibaris were given the chance to vote? Would they decide to separate from Tanzania? The answer lies with Zanzibaris themselves. To get it, they will first need to get the opportunity. … Let us now decide. If we really want to break and remake our country we should call a referendum on Zanzibar.”

And finally, the debate was, as always, at its hottest on Jamii Forums. Some “highlights” (not from the same person):

“These Scottish “Ukawa” people thought they would win and they would trick the voters into agreeing with them, but people voted no to independence. Here, the real Ukawa believe they can tempt people into agreeing to three governments (i.e. to break the union), but they will lose when there’s a referendum on the new constitution.”

“In Scotland they wanted independence, each nation with its own government – i.e. one becomes two. Ukawa wants three, with the union to continue. These are two completely different aims.”

 

2 thoughts on “Scotland and Zanzibar, more union questions

  1. salim mazwad

    THE MAIN PROBLEM IS NOT UNION,
    The problem Z’bar doesnt get its due RIGHT as required, mainlanders TREATING Z’bar like Region or province not a GORVERMENT which united wid Tanganyika.

    A small example which came open just recently dat, Tanganyika prison is under Interior Ministry while is not part of union department. If so why Z’bar prison not treated de same ???
    It means Tanganyika for 50 good yrs cheating Z’bar in dis matter…… THEY AR THIEVES.. In other way we can THINK there ar more stories like dis in other department Tanganyika gets relief trough union exchequer ( money) to anable them to maintain day to day expenses of their departments through union money.

    Now time has reached de CAT IS COMING OUT OF DE BAG …… do u think Z’barians will not FEEL about dat ??? Their believe will straight to those telling dat, “UNION IS NOT BENIFITING Z’BAR BUT TANGANYIKA IS BENIFICIAL OF NAME TANZANIA FOR EVERYTHING.”
    WHAT TANGANYIKA THINKS IS GOOD FOR THEM WHAT THEY PRESSING FOR, so dis MALTEATMENT make people of Z’bar to decide against union.

    Z’bar 99.9 ar Muslims why all things concerning them could not discussed properly ,??? Forget Muslims in Tanganyika, lets say about Muslims generaly…. acording to ur belief n rules, KADHI is part of ur life bcoz till now we follow de same rules MARRIED AS DESCRIEB IN UR HOLY BOOK(QURRAN)

  2. Aleni

    Poitical unions are a talk of the past (when it was jungle like laws governed the competitions of populations for shares of limited goods on earth), in which the big -strong could have it all by dispossessing the small-weak. Today it is a globalized world in which the small and big could compete for limited goods in accordance to global rules which mean equal opportunities for both the small and big, and replacement of the establishment of big- strong countries from unions of small-weak countries with the establishment of competitive unions of uncompetitive countries in the competitions for bigger shares of limited goods in the present globalized world.

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