Dar es Salaam — ACT-Wazalendo national chairman Seif Sharif Hamad yesterday defended the party’s decision to join the Government of National Unity (GNU) in Zanzibar – stressing that no member has been betrayed.
Mr Hamad took oath of office on Tuesday at the Zanzibar State House to become the First Vice President in Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi’s administration.
The opposition party agreed to join the Unity government for what it described as “peace” reasons and consultation with members. This is even as it maintains that the polls were not fair and free. The decision by the party’s central committee to join the GNU divided party cadres, members and supporters.
But, yesterday, Mr Hamad told cadres, members and supporters at the party’s Vuga main office in Unguja that nobody has been betrayed following the decision.
“Who is the betrayer, me?” he questioned, clarifying that members opinions collected through meetings had to be respected – although there were a few who protested the GNU.
“Joining the GNU wasn’t my decision; it was the decision of members. Being the party’s top leader, it is my duty to ensure the wishes of members are respected, something I will continue doing in the interests of the Zanzibaris,” he said.
According to him, he was no stranger to sirens, saying he was used to them after serving as Zanzibar’s Chief Minister, and then First Vice President.
“I’m not fazed by sirens. In the first place, I didn’t want the position (of First Vice President); but it was the committee that forced me to accept. Being a frontline soldier, I respect party decisions in the wider interests of citizens,” he said.
He was categorical regarding party members who had threatened to defect, saying they were free to join CCM, Chadema or NCCR-Mageuzi, noting that those who are still loyal to the party will remain to provide protection and guarantee prosperity.
He said the remaining alternative was to work with Dr Mwinyi’s administration to develop the country and eliminate hate among Zanzibaris.
According to him, Dr Mwinyi and ACT-Wazalendo share common goals: to bring economic development for the Zanzibaris – and promised that ACT-Wazalendo government ministers will deliver with speed despite being very few in number.
“Mr Zitto Kabwe (party leader) was the only ACT-Wazalendo representative in the 11th Union Parliament, but he bravely served his tenure. He impressed everybody, including the National Assembly Speaker,” he said.
He said that, apart from developing the Isles, there is a need for cooperation among political parties in order to meet the development expectations of the people.
“Before the GNU, there were people who feared to work in Pemba, but the consensus has eliminated this fear. This is one reason why we join the Government of National Unity: to ensure development and maintain peace and tranquillity,” he said.
He said during the 2015 General Election, nobody was attacked following the GNU achievement contrary to 2020 elections where several people have been killed and others wounded.
Expressing his commitment, Mr Hamad said after taking oath, “It is our trust in your words, actions and signs that we decided to join the GNU. You have shown us that you have a genuine intention to help Zanzibar out of the stalemate.”
For his part, Dr Mwinyi said, “Just as I said during my swearing-in ceremony, I promise to live up to the reconciliation requirement, and that is why I have appointed the First Vice President and also two legislators from the opposition.”