The October 2001 agreement between the
ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and the opposition Civic United Front
(CUF) to resolve Zanzibar's political crisis earlier in the year was an
historic milestone in the management and resolution of conflicts, especially
in Africa, two senior political leaders from the United Republic of Tanzania
said today at a Headquarters press conference.
Philip Mangula and Seif Sharif Hamad, secretaries-general of the CCM and the CUF respectively, described the background to the events of January last year when scores of people were killed in Zanzibar and thousands sought refuge in neighbouring Kenya, the events came as a shock, because Tanzania had for a long time enjoyed the reputation of being an island of peace in a continent pockmarked by violent and even genocidal conflicts. Although the events appeared to the outside world to have been unexpected, they were in fact a direct product of what Mr. Hamad said was a "difficult democratization process" in Zanzibar.
Flanked by the United Republic of Tanzania's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Daudi N. Mwakawago,and Mustapha Nayang'anyi, the Tanzanian Ambassador to Washington, the two political officials said that, sad as the events of 26 to 27 January 2001 were, Tanzanians had proved that it was possible to resolve issues if people were serious and put national interests first. It was their hope that the Tanzanian experience would offer important lessons to neighbouring countries who were experiencing similar conflicts.
"We believe that there is no alternative to dialogue," Mr. Hamad said. "The only mechanism to prevent, manage or resolve conflicts is serious dialogue. We created the problem, so we should not depend on other people to come and solve the problem." He added that success in reaching the resolution of the crisis was made possible by the realization by all Tanzanians that they had the responsibility of finding a solution to a problem they had created themselves.
The accord between the CCM and the CUF was signed on 10 October 2001. It included a detailed timetable for its implementation spread over an 18-month period from the date of its signing. The agreement included the setting up of a Joint Presidential Supervisory Committee with full legal powers to oversee its implementation; the formation of an Independent Presidential Commission of Inquiry; the freeing of all political detainees; and the provision of humanitarian assistance to the bereaved, the injured and others. By the time the agreement was signed, most of the refugees in Kenya had returned home following official guarantees for their safety and freedom from prosecution. Both party leaders expressed confidence and satisfaction at the pace and progress of the implementation of the agreement.
According to Mr. Mangula, contributing factors to the successful conclusion of the agreement included patriotism and the two conflicting parties' political will and desire to reach a solution. Hard-line extremists in each party tried to "rock the talks", including even government leaders. But, both the reconciliation process and the resulting accord had full Tanzanian ownership, which guaranteed the commitment to full implementation by all the major players.
In response to a correspondent's question, Mr. Hamad said that most of Africa's military coups and dictatorships were inspired by eternal interests. African people and their leaders had now decided that there was no room for dictators in Africa.
"Democratically elected African leaders have made a landmark decision,"
Mr. Nyang'anyi said. "They will never sit at the same table with any military dictator in Africa. They will only assemble as heads of freely-elected governments by the people in Africa. Any military adventurer who comes through the military and becomes a military dictator will be barred from those meetings."
Continuing, he said, while African leaders and their people had their share of the blame, the international community, backed by "an enthusiastic international press," was largely to blame for creating the situation prevailing in many countries on the continent. For example, just before the recent elections in Zambia, the international press went ahead and made a decision about who was going to become the president. The international press, therefore, raised expectations that somebody by the name of Mr. Mazoka was leading in the election. Before the elections they pre-empt the decision of the Zambian electorate. Why?" he asked.
Similarly, in Zimbabwe, already there was a perception that somebody has got to go. "Give the Zimbabweans a chance," he said. "They have the capacity to decide what is best for them." Speaking as a journalist, he said it was unfortunate that the international press did not realize that by its campaign against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his regime it was in fact helping him. He might win the elections scheduled for tomorrow by a landslide, because any African leader who stood up to the "big guys" became a hero in the African psychology.
He cited Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Liberia, and Sierra Leone as countries where their nationals had rejected undemocratic government. "As long as you have a government that is illegitimate, where the government has not been formed through a properly conducted election, you'll have a problem with the people of Africa. They don't like dictators."