February 27, 2018
By Joe Lihundi, Tranquility News Reporter, Arusha
Zanzibaris, who have filed a case at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) seeking the interpretation of the Union between Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar, want the case to be heard in the archipelago for what they term in their first temporary application as security reasons.
In their second temporary application, they want the regional court to declare the Union between the defunct Tanganyika and Zanzibar null and void until it issues its final decision on the main case they filed against the Attorney General of the United Republic of Tanzania in 2015.
The EACJ is a judicial body set up to ensure adherence to law in the interpretation, application of and compliance with the 1999 Treaty establishing the East African Community.
The court, which is made up of the First Instance and an Appellate divisions, rules on matters of the six members of the bloc, namely Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda.
While the EACJ will hear and decide on the Zanzibaris’ first application on the venue for the main case challenging the legality of the Union in Arusha on Thursday next week, the date for the second application will be set thereafter.
Rashid Salum Adiy, head of the Zanzibar Rights of Freedom and Autonomy (Zarfa), a group not recognised by the Tanzanian authorities, filed the appeal with backing from about 40,000 supporters from the archipelago.
Tranquility News has learnt that the Zanzibar secession campaigners’ main appeal comprise seven prayers, chief among them calls for the EACJ to declare the Articles of Union in-existent, contending that both substantive and procedural law neither duly executed nor sanctioned them.
In their second prayer, the Zanzibaris are pleading with the regional court to nullify the same, claiming that they lack legal validity, legitimacy and mandate, following the states’ failure to carry out a referendum for citizens to formulate them.
In their third prayer, they ask the court to declare that the Articles of Union claimed to be signed on April 22, 1964, were not ratified three days later as alleged.
Much as the the Union was not adopted into local legislation of the two respective states in a bid to have force of law, the Zanzibar petitioners ask the EACJ in their fourth prayer to nullify it altogether.
In their fifth prayer, they ask the regional court to declare the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar autonomous and sovereign on its own despite Zanzibaris reluctantly accepting it with time.
And in their sixth prayer, they ask the EACJ to direct the Revolutionary Council of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar and the Cabinet of Ministers to enact laws that will re-establish the autonomy and sovereignty of the Zanzibar State.
This is regardless of all amendments of the Constitution which they claim were continuation of fraud and deliberate calculations to defeat the actual rights of the Zanzibaris.
In case of any oversight, the petitioners ask the court in their seventh prayer to to institute other declarations and orders it thinks suitable for dispensing the much-awaited justice to the archipelago.
They assert that the two-tier Union provided for in the Articles of Union implies that the Tanzania government is tantamount to an imperial power, treating Zanzibar as its colony.
“Since the people of Zanzibar and their elective leaders were not duly consulted at the time of the said Union, the government of Tanzania is superimposing itself upon the islanders against tenets, rules, laws and conventions of international, municipal and community,” they say.
With the court’s permission, Zanzibar is entitled to secede under international law based on the principle of self-determination and self-rule instead of being treated as colony, sub-region or the province of Tanganyika, they say.
Tanganyika secured independence in 1961 from the British. Zanzibar, an archipelago off the mainland, consisting of two large islands and many small ones, was granted formal independence two years later.
It became a constitutional monarchy ruled by Sultan Jamshid bin Abdullah.
But this was short lived, as a bloody revolution overthrew the Sultanate early in 1964, with scores of Arabs murdered, mutilated and imprisoned by a paramilitary force dominated by black Africans who felt disenfranchised and dis-empowered.
The revolution eventually led to the merger of the Tanganyika with the spice islands of Zanzibar; bringing in the birth of the United Republic of Tanzania on April 26, 1964.