Thursday, May 22, 2008



By Jerry Okungu
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

I have not been in Dar es Salaam in eleven years. The last time I was in the coastal city was in 1997 when former Minister Alnoor Kassam invited me to Julius Nyerere’s birthday. I had sought his assistance in getting Mwalimu as the key note speaker to a conference I was organizing in Nairobi.

Eleven years is a long time and truly the face of Dar es Salaam has changed. It is now cleaner, more robust and organized. More sky crappers have dotted it skyline with such legendary hotels as The Kilimanjaro and the New Africa receiving substantial facelifts.

However, what hit me on the face was how our political problems back home in Kenya were so similar to those that affected Tanzanians, which if you asked me, would make a very good case for a political federation.

Everyone knows what Kenyans went through after the 2007 December elections and the chaos that followed. What we Kenyans were not being told was that Tanzanians were also having problems with their own “mwafaka” minus machete wielding thugs that caused mayhem in Kenya! For the less endowed Kenyans in the language of the coast, the word means a political accord.

The intriguing part of all this story was that as we kept both former Tanzanian President and his successor having sleepless nights as we jostled, opposed and contracted one another during the Annan negotiation sessions, CCM and CUF, the main political parties in the land of Undugu were having similar duels of their own!
One wonders whether in the cause of their counseling Kenyans on how to resolve the differences, Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete ever referred warring PNU and ODM negotiators to their own problems in the Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba where the main players were the ruling CCM and the main opposition, CUF.

The other interesting aspect is that as Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete penned their signatures to the brokered deal in Kenya as far back as February this year, three months later, a similar problem in Tanzania is far from over! Can Kenyan politicians be invited to show our brothers in the South how to insult each other in public but finally agree to move on?

Following is a story I got from The-African Daily and filed by Isaac Chanzi in Tanzania:

The CCM-CFU political stand-off on “mwafaka” (accord) has now turned into a war of words with both parties holding press conferences to trade counter accusations.
The CUF Secretary General, Seif Shariff Hamad yesterday made public a booklet containing what had actually transpired between the two parties and maintained that CUF would not go back to the negotiating table.

CCM Secretary General, Yusuf Makamba had claimed a day earlier that there was still unfinished business in the mwafaka concerning the modalities of implementing the accord. But Maalim Seif yesterday stuck to his guns saying CUF had closed shop. He stressed that there was no pending item in the agenda s claimed by Makamba.
Among the issues that were hotly debated during the mwafaka talks was the fate of the Chief Minister’s post. The CUF wanted it abolished and instead the Zanzibari President should have two Vice Presidents.

According to Seif, the two parties had agreed on the issue but CCM had all along been dragging its feet. He said from the current situation, it was clear that the political crisis in Zanzibar was deepening!

According to Seif, President Jakaya Kikwete requested the CUF to go back to the negotiation table, which the CUF did and hammered out an agreement! He added that this time CUF would not accept to resume the talks, which, according to them, had been concluded.

Seif instead asked President Kikwete to intervene and ensure that the political crisis in Zanzibar was resolved to avoid a replica of what happened in countries like Kenya, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Comoros.

He said there was need for President Kikwete to convene a meeting that would also involve the Zanzibari President, Amani Abeid Karume and other players to end the matter once and for all.

He pointed out that failure by President Kikwete to end the crisis would mean the CUF sticking to its guns and invite the international community to intervene.
Now if you substitute names like CCM with PNU, CUF with ODM and players like Seif with Anyang’, Makamba with Karua, Kikwete with Kibaki and Karume with Raila, you get the Kenyan story during the Annan negotiations.”