For the past few days after the end of the ruling party’s meeting in Dodoma, reprehensible characters within Chama Cha Mapinduzi, have been attacking the former Zanzibar President Abeid Amani Karume, in way that cast doubt about prevalence of democracy in one of Africa’s oldest political parties.
These characters masquerading as true patriots and defenders of the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar have strong support from a section of the top leadership of the party.
This is why as we write this editorial, no national CCM leader has condemned what has been happening in Zanzibar against the former President who served for ten years.
They have chosen to attack President Karume as an individual instead of debating his opinion about the Zanzibar Muslim revival group known popularly as “Uamsho.” In his speech in Dodoma two weeks ago, former President Karume urged the government to pay attention to some of the Union’s issues raised by the radical group—Uamsho.
Karume’s view is that it was high time the government started seeing the group as a challenger of the union instead of considering it as a threat to national security and above all our ‘sacred’ union sealed about 48 years ago.
If CCM claims to be a democratic institution as declared recently by its chairman, Jakaya Kikwete who said this was its key maxim, then Karume’s views shouldn’t be taken as a threat or sympathy to the radical group—Uamsho. In a democratic institution, sometime members can agree to disagree on various key issues, but that doesn’t warrant personal attacks or character assassination as we witnessed few days ago in Zanzibar.
In fact if there’s any leader within the ruling party whose experience could be borrowed in order to deal with the Uamsho group, then that leader is former President Karume.
At those difficulty days, stormy moments in Zanzibar, Karume chose to negotiate with the opposition party, Civic United Front and finally brokered a historical deal on power sharing—ending the culture of winner take-all that dominated the Indian Ocean archipelago for decades.
Today, Zanzibar is peaceful and governable—and above all opposition party (CUF) are now sharing power with the ruling party, CCM. This is a living legacy of President Karume that makes him a hero in this country’s history—whether one likes it or not.
It’s appalling to see that this important legacy is ignored or quickly forgotten by his own party to the extent of allowing thugs within the ruling—CCM—to attack him and his family, simply because he has taken a different opinion on how the Isles’ government should address the Uamsho radical group.
The truth is very clear; that our union is currently facing a critical moment with many questioning its modality, and therefore, pretending to be an ostrich, burying our heads in the sand will do more damage than good to the union.
Karume has exercised his constitutional rights within his party by expressing his views openly. He shouldn’t be seen as a traitor, betrayer or Uamsho sympathiser. Those who disagree with him shouldn’t take to cheap politics or muscled campaigns against him, but can challenge his views with facts.
Today it’s the former President of Zanzibar being humiliated; perhaps tomorrow it will be the former President of Tanzania—if this new culture isn’t discouraged and condemned within the ruling party.