A probe commission has claimed that Zanzibar government under former President Amani Abeid Karume ordered the leasing of government land and buildings in Mambo Msiige heritage site under terms considered to contravene the isle’s interests.
Chakechake Representative Omar Ali Shehe chaired the committee, which was formed by the Isles House of Representatives. The committee revealed the land and buildings were leased to ASB Holdings Limited for 99 years for $1.5 million.
According to the committee’s investigation, the decision was taken with the backing of the Minister of State in the President’s Office, Dr Mwinyihaji Makame Mwadini, claiming he received the directive to that effect from the then Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, Dr Amani Abeid Karume.
However, Dr Mwadini was unable to produce written evidence of the order of the former Zanzibar president to lease the Mambo Msiige land and buildings.
Nevertheless, the probe committee found that documents on the lease of buildings along Shangani shores had ‘disappeared’ while in the custody of the Ministry of Lands, Settlements and Water. The report said the ministry’s deputy principal secretary, after being investigated, said his ministry had no documents for land application to lease land. But a former minister Mansoor Yussuf Himid challenged the remarks by the deputy principal secretary.
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) opposed leasing of buildings of Zanzibar Stone Town heritage sites. However, the probe committee established that a document (STCDA/4V0l.III/426) was issued in March 2011 to ASB Holdings Limited allowing them to pull down all the buildings in that area.
The report has recommended the termination of the lease process, saying it contravenes existing law and procedure for leasing land on the isles. “The buildings should be returned to the government and when need to lease them arises, the process should follow laid down procedure to taking into account national interest.
Besides Omar Ali Shehe, the other members of the commission are former minister of women children affairs Asha Bakari Makame, former minister of state in the Chief Minister’s office Hamza Hassann Juma (Kwamtura), Haji Hassan Hija (Kiwani), Mbarouk Wadi Mussa, (Mkwajuni), Yahya Khamis Hamad and Othman Ali Haji.