Electoral economy cannot be a light burden

10Mar 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Electoral economy cannot be a light burden

Four months after holding the General Elections the Zanzibar Revolutionary Government plans to be deciding to hold a re-run for a cost to the tune of whopping 7.5bn Tanzania Shillings with an open question if it was indeed necessary.

It should be known that the annulled October 25,2015 General Elections Zanzibar Government had to cough 7.4bn Tanzania shillings, meaning in about five months there will be over 15bn Tanzania shillings spent for supposed democracy.

As far as open information is concerned the whole amount is going to be met by the Zanzibar Government, naturally the amount of which was never passed by the House of Representatives and hence this means the funds to be appropriated were approved by the Finance Minister from with the powers provided under the law.

It also naturally means there would be many or even major cuts in different sections of the 2015/16 Budget such that there will be telling effect on the spread and depth of individual allocations as regards to performance or implementation.

It would hence be expected as well that actual budgetary spending will sink lower to almost all time low in an economy where almost every year budgetary implementation tends to range between 50-40 percent or few lower. A day it goes above 70 calls for huge celebration.

Of course also budgetary implications effected by the cut-down in order to hold the elections scissors are known not to the public up to now and we only can pray to God that the areas suffered under the butchers knife were not to do with development and social services.

Due to the annulment of the last October General Elections by the head of the Zanzibar Electoral Commission, Jecha Salum Jecha there lacks an oversight eye by the House of Representatives to check the government if the amount allocated for the re-run was dully committed and every cent is spent for the purpose.

It literally means Zanzibar has had no Parliament for four months now, something that has never been heard of since Zanzibar ushered in multiparty politics in 1995. A worst case scenario has been a one sided House of Representatives made up of CCM law-makers as the Opposition CUF has been boycotting in protesting of being denied their electoral victories.

Since the annulment of the elections there has been economic slow down. But how slow it can not be known, unless a study is conducted, but there is feeling of a bite in the day to day life in the streets where every day usage items have shot up.

For the first three months after October 25 the pace of life was too slow to bear. The presence of armed personnel in key installments but also in the streets caused tension and anxiety and discouraged business .

It was being said that there had been booking cancellations meaning that Zanzibar earned tourism as between October and February, at the peak of her main stay with the islands attracting about 200,000 visitors per year. There is no evidence that the booking have stabilized as already some Western Government have issued travel advisories for their nationals.

There have also been declined in investor interest with many standing on the sideline watching and also decline in imports must have had negative effect on the economy and certainly testing the government power to spend to meet her budgetary obligations.

And now that the re-run seeming eminent, has tended to raise the political tempo again In response to his support for the re-run President John Pombe Magufuli, the Commander in Chief is sending troops to reinforce the security level in Zanzibar at the time when masked armed hooligans have been ramping the populace especially in Zanzibar Urban District destablising small businesses.

Ministry of Finance will only announce the 2016/17 Budget focus after the March 20 re-run elections surely expected to be dominated by the ruling CCM as CUF is protesting in principle that the October 25 General Elections were free and fair and legitimate Presidential winner Maalim Seif Shariff Hamad should be declared.

The regime in power in Zanzibar is racing against time. It requires to have the House of Representatives in place before April so that it can sit to approve the government’s budget or there will be no money to run the show.

If Zanzibar government supported by the Tanzania government decides to soldier on with the re-run as against the advise of the donor community, there could be huge backlash on Zanzibar up coming budget plans.

Already the United States Milenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has frozen 472 million dollars of project money which was also to trickle down to Zanzibar to support electrification efforts, there is high possibility that Western countries and Canada might also decide to hold their funds.

In the air there is “we do not care attitude” from both sides of Union. This will mean it could be a belt tightening budget for Zanzibar and probably one that will call for brotherly support from the Mainland and who else but the Chinese on project support.

In the concluding 2015/16 Budget Zanzibar had allocated 707.8 bn shillings out of which 376.5 was for recurrent.
There has been no information so far on what has been the actual spending but certainly the government has been busier than any other recent times and likelihood of overspending cannot be ruled out, especially where is lack of oversight body.

The truth, the bitter truth is that Zanzibaris are heading in for hard times come the re-run or otherwise. The economy will have to sink to the lowest before it comes out again and only when amicable solution
was reached with popular consensus.

The best way for to the islands prosper economically in the league of Seychelles, Dubai Mauritius, Hong Kong or Singapore, to which is not a distance dream but a reality, all efforts must be taken to ensure

Zanzibar gets people driven democracy and not coercive democracy which is counter good economy.
Even in the expectation of petrol economy, Zanzibar economy can only flourish if it left dependent of Mainland and outward looking but also her democracy would not be controlled from Dar es Salaam, as has been the case in last half a century.

In any adverse situation the islands will find itself in, the islanders are strong enough to bounce back. The tourism has the potential of growing further, fishing in the high seas and modern technology has not been tried yet so also is the off shore banking sector, while housing is the next big thing coming to Zanzibar, if only there will be the right government.