By Own Correspondent, Dar es Salaam – PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete yesterday (Tuesday) led Tanzanians to mark the 47th anniversary of the Union between the Tanganyika and Zanzibar which formed the United Republic of Tanzania. President Kikwete officiated the celebrations at Amani stadium in Zanzibar arriving in an open military motorcade.
The event was also attended by the President of Zanzibar Dr. Ali Mohamed Shein, Union Vice-President, Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal, present and former Union and Zanzibar government leaders and members of the diplomatic corps. However in the sidelines of the jubilant event, questions continued to linger on the Union. A press statement signed by Sheikh Thabit Mohamed Saleh, leader of a Zanzibar Muslim group wanted a re-writing of the Articles of the Union.
“Over the period of 47 the Union was like a baby of only one political party, CCM. Except for some years between1964-1977…Any meaningful discussion on the Union should focus on restoring the Post of Zanzibar President as an automatic Vice President in the Union government,” said the group as many more Tanzanians commented in favour of the Union but advising for some alignments.
Academics and politicians have also raised their concerns over the Unions fate citing the need to allow people to comment on its structure. Currently the Union which was signed on 26th April 1964 has maintained two governments, the Union government and the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar. Some critics prefer a federal model where there would exist three governments; for Zanzibar, for Tanzania Mainland (Tanganyika) and the Federal/Union government.
Despite the critics, it is agreed that the Union remains the only of such kind in Africa were the cherished efforts of former leaders to unite it into the United States of Africa (USA) are still in vain. The African Peer Review (APRM) Tanzania governance report (2009) has cited some issues to be reworked to strengthen the Union but the governance assessment African Union mechanism has cited the Tanzanian Union as an example that other African countries should emulate. The report says African leaders should learn on how former President Julius Nyerere and Zanzibar founding father, Sheikh Abeid Aman Karume laid the foundation that remains strong today.