Residents of Pemba have expressed unqualified support for the 48-year old Tanzanian Union, saying those crusading for its dismantling do not have Zanzibar's interests at heart.
Speaking to The Guardian in separate interviews in Wete district, Mtemani resident Mrisho Juma Mtwana said that they do not support the move by Uamsho Forum of calling for the breakup of the Union because those who will be affected most were the people from Pemba.
Mtwana said a big number of youths and businessmen from Pemba rely on the Mainland market from which they have benefited economically and managed to support their families back home.
"Personally I want the Union to prosper because it has been beneficial to us, including the prevailing peace, security and unity. We have invested a lot in the Mainland. We have houses, farms, shops and small businesses. Will our relatives remain in the Mainland if we break the Union?” Mtwana questioned.
He said breaking the Union will pave the way for the separation of Unguja and Pemba because the majority of latter’s residents were still supporting the Union.
Another resident Suleiman Ali Haji said the important thing was for the Union problems to be discussed instead of promoting the ideas of breakup.
He said Zanzibaris living in the Mainland will be forced to pay for residence permits annually before being given citizenship, something which will affect their undertaking business activities in the Mainland.
"Famous businessmen like Bakhresa, can do business in any country but how about a farmer and small scale entrepreneurs? Will they manage to pay taxes which they are currently not paying because they are Tanzanians?” Haji questioned.
He advised the religious leaders to stick to their religious roles instead of engaging in politics, so as to avoid unnecessary conflicts and protect the national unity which has existed for 48 years.
He said the opportunities provided by President Kikwete were crucial and the important thing was for Zanzibaris to organise themselves and demand their basic rights within the Union instead of dismantling it.
It is upon the Zanzibaris to give their views through the Constitutional Review Commission to enable Zanzibar to benefit and get its rights which are currently seen as challenges.
For his part Faki Khatib Simba a resident Micheweni, said that many people were not well informed on Union matters and politicians were misleading them for personal and political interests.
"Zanzibar security will be in danger because we still have enemies who don’t want to see Africa ruling itself,” he said.
Mohamed Abdallah Ngushi a resident of Micheweni said the problem was not the Union but the shortfalls of the Union which they wanted to be addressed.
"The issue of the Union is not for Uamsho Forum, but for all Zanzibaris and all Tanzanians …the leaders should sit together to discuss the benefits and resolve the problems,” Ngushi said.
Faki Makame Kombo who reside at Micheweni said the leaders have failed to resolve the problems related to the Union since the second phase government to the current one, causing wananchi to lose hope.
During his Month end speech President Jakaya Kikwete warned leaders of the Zanzibar Islamic Revival Forum, the group accused of masterminding chaos in Unguja, that his government would use force to deter any threats and violence resulting from the faction’s operations in the Isles.
“Much as the government doesn’t relish taking severe action against its own citizens, nothing will stop the state from using force to contain those who are out to disrupt peace in our country,” warned the President in his monthly address to the nation.
The head of state noted that Tanzanians have always lived like brothers, irrespective of their differences in race, ethnicity, religion and origin.