"Nobody is advocating for a complete break up. How can we split after almost 40 years together? Moreover, the CUF, my party, is a national party. All we are seeking is that the structures should be very clear within the union." Seif Shariff Hamad, secretary general of Tanzania's main opposition party, the Civic United Front (CUF), uttered those historic words in an exclusive interview with New African while visiting London in early April.
For an Africa where nothing is supposed to work except conflicts and wars, Hamad's words came as a huge relief.
On 10 October last year, the CUF signed an historic agreement with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) to end "the politics of hate" in the country after six years of confrontational politics (see NA, Dec). The agreement has since been hailed by the British government as "an historical move that must be emulated even in Europe where there are conflicts".
Hamad told New African that he was proud that the agreement was reached "in Tanzania and nor in London, and among Tanzanians without any foreign intermediaries or external input".
"It was just eye ball to eye ball, between the CCM secretary general and myself together with our delegates. In fact we reached the agreement in Dar es Salam, not in London, not in America. But after we had signed it, we [the CCM and CUF] were invited by Britain and America because they were interested to know about our achievements, how we achieved it, and what was in the agreement.
Hamad said no pressure was put on them to reach the agreement. "If there was any pressure at all, it must have come from within. The internal pressure rose as a result of the rigged elections of 2000 which we disputed, and again on 26-27 January 2001 a number of people lost their lives and property destroyed in Zanzibar as a result of peaceful demonstrations held by my parry.
"A commission of inquiry has been set up to look into those violent incidents in Pemba and Unguja in which between 24 and 70 people were killed, and more than 2,000 fled to Mombasa as refugees. The commission will present its findings on 31 July this year."
"From the CUF's point of view," Hamad continued, "the government and the armed forces were responsible for the killings. And because we were trading accusations, when we engaged in the talks (and we discussed the 26-27 January killings), we all agreed that we should find out the truth. And how can you find our the truth? Only by setting up an independent commission...