Question: What do Tanzania and America have in common? Answer Tanzania listens while America preaches what it doesn't practise.
On 29 October, as soon as electoral "irregularities" had been established to have taken place in Zanzibar (the islands that joined Tanganyika to form the Union of Tanzania in 1964), the American embassy in Dar es Salaam was quick to say:
"As a close friend of Tanzania, we congratulate them on the elections on the mainland; however, we are deeply concerned about the failure of the electoral process in Zanzibar."
From Washington, Richard Boucher, a State Department spokesman, repeated America's concerns and called on Tanzania to "investigate the irregularities fully and bring those responsible to justice."
The European Union, Commonwealth, OAU, other foreign countries and institutions joined in, asking the Tanzanian government to find "a solution acceptable to all parties in Zanzibar."
The Washington-based International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) which had sent a 14-member observation team to Zanzibar, said new elections in all constituencies, properly conducted, could address the volatile situation."
Other international observera, including those from the Commonwealth, declared the elections "ridiculous" and "a shambles". Diplomats from donor countries, including America, threatened to cut aid to all of Tanzania if the elections were not re-run in Zanzibar.
Dar es Salaam obliged. On 5 November, the elections were re-run in 16 constituencies in Zanzibar, instead of all the 50 as demanded by the opposition. The Civic United Front (CUF), Zanzibar's main opposition party, which accused the CCM of rigging the elections, boycotted the 5 November re-run, and still wants fresh elections in all the 50 constituencies.
Interestingly, two days after the re-vote in Zanzibar, America went to the polls. "Irregularities" were established to have taken place in the State of Florida, including unopened ballot boxes found in a church.
The "irregularities" delayed the result of the presidential poll that pitted George W. Bush against Vice-President Al Gore, and sharply divided the American people, battered their morale and threatened to plunge the world's only superpower into political instability.
Even though the locals in Florida wanted a "re-vote" in the affected districts, America, the great preacher of free and fair elections, had not been able to do so, by the time of going to press. Even the manual re-count of the...