A section of Zanzibaris living on Mainland Tanzania have criticised campaigns engineered by extremist elements in the Isles aimed at breaking the Union between Zanzibar and Tanganyika.
The comments have come at a time when members of Islamic Revival Group (Uamsho) and elements have launched attacks on churches and campaigns with the intention to break up the Union.
Speaking in separate interviews with The Guardian yesterday, some Zanzibaris from Pemba and Unguja, said breaking the Union was not a solution, recommending: “Instead we should address outstanding problems in the Union.”
Khamis Ali, a resident of Mbagala Kiburugwa said he did not support the separatist arguments, saying the move would adversely affect Zanzibaris who have invested on the Mainland.
"We have families and businesses here. I am married to a woman from Shinyanga with whom, I have three children, said Ali, adding: “Instead of campaigning for the breakup of the Union, we should utilise the opportunity offered by the Constitution Review process — to give our opinions which will contribute to the drafting of the new constitution which will solve Union problems.”
Humudi Juma (32), businessman at Kariakoo, from Mji Mkongwe, Zanziabar, said it was difficult to break the Union because people have mixed blood, noting: “We should examine ways of allowing Zanzibar to make independent decisions on her economic affairs.”
He said it was disappointing to see a group of people advocating for the Union breakup, while there
were many Zanzibaris who are currently enjoying economic and business opportunities in the Mainland.
“It does not make sense at all…some Zanzibaris are threatening Mainlanders living in the Isles…making them live in great fear,” he said.
"Even Islamic teachings do not allow discrimination on the basis of race, colour, faith or other elements. Zanzibaris should stop threatening Mainlanders living in Zanzibar. The main point here is to push our national leaders to solve Union problems,” said Juma.
However, Ali Mohamed from Narung'ombe, Zanzibar, condemned people and groups who are crusading for separation, saying people from both sides have been living in harmony for years.
He said he has lived in Tanzania Mainland for 25 years, and succeeded in social and business life, noting that he would not accept any move aimed at breaking the Union.
Mbaruk Mselem Omar, from Wete Pemba, (64), said constitution review was important to enable Zanzibar make autonomous decisions regarding her internal and external affairs.
He explained that Zanzibar was powerless under the current Union set up, but noted that breaking the pact was not acceptable, considering the friendly environment and mutual relations and other social and economic benefits enjoyed by people from both sides.
"I have two children who are presently living in the Mainland…and every month, they send me money in Pemba. This is just an example of the benefits of the Union. They work in the Mainland, but they also benefit people from the other side of the Union,” Mbaruk.
Abdallah Iddi Mrisho, said: “some of us, living in the Mainland, like the Union, thought we know there are some weaknesses which need to be rectified.”
The reactions have come in the wake of recent attacks on churches, Christian structures Zanzibar and bars, attracting condemnation and criticisms from different groups.
Christian clerics condemned the acts, and pressed government to bring to book perpetrators of the acts, which threatened peace and unity.
The leaders who met the minister of State in the Second Vice President’s Office, Mohamed Aboud, called on the Isles government to institute punitive actions against the pioneers of the burning of churches, convents in Zanzibar. Reading a recent statement, on behalf of the other leaders, Head of the Anglican Church, Bishop Valentine Mokiwa said the destructive acts posed a bigger threat to the security of their followers and the national unity.
“Our followers are living in fear, because of what happened to our churches some few days…there is also displeasure, on their part (followers) over government inaction and failure to take those responsible to court,” said Mokiwa. The burning of churches started long time ago, but the government did not act decisively to put a stop to the acts, he said.
Zanzibar government has already initiated actions against perpetrators of the acts and tightened security to prevent such chaos in future—including banning authorised demonstrations and public meetings.