Court

Zanzibar secession case hits snag at regional court

It won't be heard in the Isles as requested

Tuesday March 20, 2018

A panel of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) judges presiding over a case challenging the Union between Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar. From left is Justice Fakihi A. Jundu, Principal Judge Monica Mungenyi and Justice Charles Nyawello.

By Joe Lihundi

Tranquility News Reporter, Arusha

Over 40,000 proponents of Zanzibar secession have to travel all the way to Arusha, Tanzania Mainland, to hear a case they filed at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) following the regional court’s decision to strike out their application seeking to change the venue.

The Zanzibar separatist campaigners, who are pushing for a fully-fledged autonomy and sovereignty of the Indian archipelago, however, are themselves to blame for their failure to abide by procedures and official language of the East African Community (EAC).

In their struck out petition, the Zanzibaris prayed that the venue for hearing of their main case, which is challenging the Union between the then Republic of Tanganyika and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar, should be in Zanzibar.

Rashid Salum Adiy, who has filed the main case on behalf of other 39,999 Zanzibaris at the court, claimed the change of venue would relieve them of travelling costs and assure them of their security.

However, Mr Adiy failed to express himself in fluent English at the court when their Kenyan counsel Japhet Chidzipha delayed to secure the power of attorney that would give him permission to address the court on their behalf.

Mr Adiy’s attempt to convince the regional court to adjourn the case pending accomplishment of the process of registering their counsel also proved futile. Principle Judge Monica Mugenyi said the plaintiffs had ample time for seeking the power of attorney for their counsel.

“Your counsel is, therefore, unqualified to address this court,” stressed Justice Mugenyi who was flanked by Justices Fakihi A. Jundu and Charles Nyawello.

Justice Mugenyi said also there was no room for Mr Adiy to address the court in Kiswahili against Article 46 of the East African Community Treaty which declares English the official language of the regional bloc.

Mr Japhet Chidzipha, a Kenyan Counsel for about 40,000 Zanzibaris seeking secession at the East African Court of Justice, addresses the court shortly before he was stopped. PHOTOS | EACJ

Four state attorneys and a senior legal officer from both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar are defending the Union government at the EACJ.

They are Principal State Attorney from the Attorney General’s Chambers in Tanzania Mainland Alicia Mbuya, Deputy Attorney-General for Zanzibar Mzee Ali Haji, Principal State Attorney from the Attorney General’s Chambers in Tanzania Mainland Mark Mulwambo, Senior State attorney from the Attorney General’s Chambers in Zanzibar Mbarouk Suleiman Othman, and Principal Legal Officer from the Union Vice-President’s Office Gasper Shao.

Ms Mbuya, had asked the court to consider striking out the application seeking to change the venue for hearing of the main case, saying it lacked valid grounds.

As a result of the decision, the EACJ will set a date for hearing of the main case to begin in Arusha, but Mr Adiy vowed outside the courtroom that they would continue pushing for the change of the venue.

The Zanzibar secession lobbyists have filed seven prayers in their main case. They ask the regional court to declare the Articles of Union between the Republic of Tanganyika and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar null in the first place.

Second, they argue that the Articles of Union were not duly executed and sanctioned by both substantive and procedural law.

Third, they ask the court to nullify the Articles of Union on grounds that they lack legal validity, legitimacy and mandate, as the two states did not carry out a referendum for their citizens to formulate them.

Fourth, they want 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, contending that they were altered at the whims of any government’s body without the sanction of its respective countries.

They further want the court to nullify the Union between the defunct Republic of Tanganyika and the People’s Republic of Zanzibar, saying it was not adopted into local legislation of the two respective states for them to have force of law.

Fifth, they ask the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar to be declared autonomous and sovereign, saying Zanzibaris have reluctantly accepted the ‘political Union’ as time rolled by.

Principal State Attorney from the Attorney General’s Chambers in Tanzania Mainland Mark Mulwambo address the East African Court of Justice in Arusha, Tanzania.

Sixth, they ask the EACJ to direct the Revolutionary Council of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar and the Cabinet to enact laws re-establishing the autonomy and sovereignty of the Zanzibar State.

They charge that the amendments of the Constitution were a continuation of a fraud and deliberate machinations to defeat the rights of the Zanzibaris.

They finally pray the court to institute other declarations and orders it deems suitable for dispensing justice to Zanzibaris.

Citing the nonexistence of the Tanganyika government in the federation provided for in the Articles of Union in question, they query if the government of Tanzania is serving as an imperial power, treating Zanzibar as a colony.

“Since the people of Zanzibar and their elective leaders were not consulted at the time of the said Union, the government of Tanzania is superimposing itself upon the people of Zanzibar against the tenets, rules, laws and conventions of international, municipal and community,” they say in their application.

They ask the court to determine whether 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.

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 disempowered.

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. This is the Union the Zanzibaris want nullified.

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