‘Maalim Seif was a giant, treasured harmony, unity’

19Feb 2021
By Guardian Reporter
Zanzibar
The Guardian
‘Maalim Seif was a giant, treasured harmony, unity’
  • Zitto Kabwe relives last meeting with Maalim Hamad
  • US ambassador salutes his memory, praises his bravery

​​​​​​​ZANZIBAR President Dr Hussein Mwinyi yesterday led other mourners in the burial service for the Isles First Vice President, Seif Sharif Hamad at his home village of Mtambwe in Pemba.

Members of Tanzania People’s Defence Forces carry the casket bearing the body of Zanzibar’s First Vice President, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, after prayers at Dar es Salaam’s Mamoor Mosque yesterday. It was soon later flown to Zanzibar for subsequent burial at his home village on Pemba Island. Photo: Correspondent Miraji Msala

Earlier, top government officials and leaders of political parties joined large crowds of people to pay their last respects to the late Hamad at an event held at Mnazi Mmoja grounds in Unguja. The funeral service was led by Zanzibar Chief Sheikh Saleh Kabi.

The late Hamad who was also ACT-Wazalendo national chairman, died on Wednesday at the Muhimbili National Hospital where he was admitted for treatment.

In his speech read after Hamad was laid to rest, ACT-Wazalendo leader Zitto Kabwe disclosed what he discussed with the late Hamad before he fell ill. The day before Hamad fell ill; they met in his office and discussed various issues.

“Among others, he stressed to me that it was now time for the party to be at the frontline to cement the peace accord.

“I did not know that he was actually giving a farewell statement. I also remember that on that day he met two Zanzibar cabinet ministers, but I was not there during their discussions,” the ACT-Wazalendo leader reflected.

For sure Hamad’s departure from this world is not the end of what he stood for, but the start in implementing his visions on the type of Zanzibar he wanted to build with all other Zanzibaris, he declared, elaborating that the party hopes that his view of making Zanzibar a vital trade hub like Singapore will be realized not too far from now.

“The national unity accord will continue to be honoured with justice to every Zanzibari without discrimination. ACT-Wazalendo will continue to provide its contribution to ensure Maalim Seif’s dream for Zanzibar’s prosperity, justice and unity is not extinguished,” he asserted.

He said the tragedy was not only heavy for Zanzibar, but also for the party and other fighters for democracy within and outside the country.

“Maalim Seif was a pillar of the onset of multiparty democracy in the country, guardian of the upcoming youth in multiparty politics, a great believer in people-oriented development and a fighter of the rights of all Zanzibaris irrespective of party affiliation,” he observed.

He said the party had lost a crucial political guardian and highly respected counselor, arbitrator in party sittings who gave members the audacity to move ahead when they were about to give up due to the difficult political environment in recent years.

“As we were about to give up, or to be forced to give up, we reminded ourselves of the difficult path Maalim Seif had been through in the fight for justice, respect and prosperity for the people of Zanzibar and Tanzania generally,” he remarked.

“Everytime we reminded ourselves of the ordeals of Maalim Seif. We see ourselves that we still have great strength moving forward in the fight for justice and prosperity for all Zanzibaris.”

In addition to various political accidents he went through during his many years in leadership, he never gave up or being swayed in issues he believed in, he emphasised.

Zitto said: “Maalim Seif lived by the words he said in December 1987 at Tibirinzi grounds in Pemba, 34 years ago. He told the people of Zanzibar: ‘I am with you now; I promise you that I will be with you while in the government or outside it. I will be with you while I am in the party or outside it,’ as during that time he was a member of top organs of the ruling party.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Tanzania Dr Donald Wright has issued a statement that described Hamad as one of Tanzania’s political giants.

“Maalim Seif never wanted to be a politician, yet he spent over 40 years in politics. He was chosen by others to lead because of his immense gifts: his compassion, his wisdom, and his strength of character. The story goes that he was drafted into government out of high school, after being asked to fill a vacancy in the civil service by the new Zanzibar Revolutionary Government. This pattern repeated throughout his decades of service to the people of Zanzibar, including his career’s final chapter, when President Mwinyi asked him to join in a Government of National Unity as Zanzibar’s First Vice President.

In my meetings with Maalim Seif I was struck by his quiet and calm demeanor, and by his great reservoir of strength and courage just below the surface. He repeatedly showed that courage throughout his career, sometimes working with the government, and sometimes opposing it at great personal cost.

In his final days he committed two last acts of great bravery. First, he threw his support behind Zanzibar’s Government of National Unity, joining with President Mwinyi in an effort to heal past wounds and be a leader for all Zanzibaris. Second, when he became sick with Covid-19, he informed the world of his diagnosis, demonstrating again his devotion to the health and safety of all Tanzanians.

In honor of his courage, in tribute to his memory, let us all continue on the path that he started and do our best to live up to his legacy.”

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