- Speaking to The Citizen, on several issues, veteran politician and diplomat Ali Karume has said the union between the two nations was something that was inevitable after the revolution that gave majority rule to the Africans
Unguja. Tanzania tomorrow April 26, celebrates 59 years of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar that gave birth to a new nation.
Speaking to The Citizen, on several issues, veteran politician and diplomat Ali Karume has said the union between the two nations was something that was inevitable after the revolution that gave majority rule to the Africans.
“There were several factors that led to the two countries uniting. They had much in common otherwise it would have been an artificial union of some sort which wouldn’t have lasted,” said the 72-year-old diplomat.
He added: “This was a natural union even if it had not happened on April 26 it could have still occurred even 60 years later.”
According to Mr Karume, by colonial design at the 1884-85 Berlin Conference, Zanzibar was demarcated as part of German East Africa. The two countries had by 1964 achieved compatibility after the revolution which overthrew the rule of the sultanate on the island.
“The union could not have been possible without the revolution given the fact that Zanzibar was under the Sultan and Tanganyika was under President Nyerere,” he said.
Mr Karume added that the sole duty of the President of the United Republic of Tanzania is to make sure there is a fair balance in the affairs of the Union, though sometimes there could arise some imbalances.
“The president of the United Republic is the head of state for both countries whereas Zanzibar’s president leads only Zanzibaris,” he said.
Speaking on the issue of sovereignty that has been raised recently by the opposition ACT-Wazalendo, Mr Karume said there is no country in the world that can claim complete sovereignty and still belong to other entities such as the union between Zanzibar and Tanganyika, the East African Community or the African Union.
“Your sovereignty is compromised when on your own accord you accept to sign treaties to join such entities which means you are bonded by resolutions that are made by these entities.”
In his assessment, the union has had far reaching benefits to the people of Zanzibar because as an island nation they lack certain major means of production.
“Without the union I don’t think we would be where we are today. Had we remained with the same laws that the colonists had left us with, maybe there would have occurred another revolution perhaps worse than that of 1964,” he said.
He added: But even with the advantages we have to venture out and look for opportunities that are available within the union.
He admits that just like any other, the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar has its fair challenges but they are resolvable through dialogue, therefore, Zanzibaris should not be deluded into thinking that complete sovereignty will solve their problems.
In his opinion the Zanzibar and Tanganyika union which was modelled around that of the United Kingdom offers the best solutions as opposed to what politicians have been calling for.
“We need to look into the bigger picture of the union and what it has for us, because the moment you voluntarily unite you will definitely lose some of your powers. Tanganyika decided not to have a government and in the process submitted their sovereignty to the union whereas Zanzibar retained its government in a model that reflects the British union,” he said.