Union getting even stronger with the current presidency

19Apr 2021
The Guardian
Union getting even stronger with the current presidency

LOOKING at what is happening on a daily basis, one gets the feeling that the union of the Mainland and Zanzibar is getting stronger each passing day, with impressions of lingering disaffection with the union diminishing by the day.

The current presidency, on account of institutional procedure sewed up with fate, looks like it is the phase to actually solidify the union, chiefly on account of unanimous support and loyalty to the new national leader, removing doubts as to respect of the constitution. It was a major step.

We saw on Saturday how a cultural troupe from Zanzibar was on stage, on the ground in ceremonies to commission newly graduating officers of the Tanzania People’s ‘Defence Forces (TPDF), which also involved cadets from neighbouring countries. Similarly, the Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office (Union and Environment) Selemani Jafo was on a visit to Zanzibar at midweek, where he sounded upbeat about ending pending contentious non-union matters. He said that the government is working on remaining issues, set to table for signing a resolution framework pact, implying that harmony is at hand.

During his tour of Zanzibar to visit various development projects Jafo was accompanied by Deputy Minister Hamad Hassan Chande, where the minister notably saw procedural challenges as things that ought to be behind us by now. He said the government is working hard to resolve the pending union challenges “so that we focus solely on improving the living standards of the people in the Mainland and Zanzibar.”He visited projects being implemented by the Tanzania Social Action Fund (TASAF) and the the Market Infrastructure, Value Addition and Rural Finance (MIVARF) projects, along with the World Bank linked SWIOfish project in Nungwi area. The latter refers to the South-West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth Project (Africa region), selecting priority fisheries for improvement.

What strikes outsiders looking at the reports is that there is closer cooperation and ground inspection as to how projects linking the two parts of the country are being implemented, as further strengthening the union is a key objective. To this end, the minister tasked project managers with carefully managing the funds provided by the Union government for the implementation of various projects in order to bring good results. He expressed delight that the projects he visited were being implemented effectively. He all the same underlined that technical teams at work on the projects “have work to do in ensuring the projects reflect value for money criteria.”  Chances are that effective implementation equals value for money.

Echoing the spirit of Jafo’s tour, Khalid Bakari Hamran, the director of government coordination for Union Affairs in Zanzibar urged residents in the project areas to identify areas where they have noticed challenges so that proper implementation is exercised. TASAF disbursements notably increased from 12bn/- to 21.2bn/- in the past year in relation to Zanzibar projects, which enabled the department to beef up projects in health, education and water sectors. The near doubling of disbursements shows that institutions are working to enhance visible improvement in people’s lives.

It is hence with this background that in October last year, the government removed five issues off the list of contentious union matters, including the Joint Committee oil and gas exploration and exploitation. Where there is adequate goodwill on the use of public funds even from oil, strict delineation of the powers of each side is unnecessary.

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