Tanzania union here to stay: VP

Zanzibar Second Vice-President Seif Ali Iddi. FILE |   NATION MEDIA GROUP

The status of the 1964-born union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar in the context of the envisaged new constitution stood out as a thorny issue on Monday following remarks by the latter's Second Vice President, Mr Seif Ali Iddi.

Since the writing of a new constitution began earlier  this year, the fate of the union has been a rather contentious issue, with some quarters even wondering whether the merger should be maintained.

Addressing the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) general congress, Mr Iddi said those using the constitutional review to comment on the need to restructure the union were wasting their time.

While some influential Zanzibaris have been pushing for a reform of the union, Mr Iddi stressed  that the merger was “here to stay in its current form”.

His views are likely to rattle some of his colleagues in the Government of National Unity (GNU) in Zanzibar, notably those who have publicly declared their support for the contract-based union.

Mr Iddi's emphasis also differs with the views aired by the chairman of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), Judge (rtd) Joseph Warioba, who has repeatedly insisted that Tanzanians should be free to air views that will inform the kind of constitution they want.

Judge Warioba has been on record several times saying Tanzanians should neither be coached nor blocked from making certain views. The freedom, he had insisted, should be extended to allowing people to decide on whether they still need the Union or not, or the kind of Union they want.

But, launching the commission earlier in the year at State House, President Jakaya Kikwete took a cautious stand, allowing free airing of views while stressing that these should be on how to bolster the union and not on how to break it.

But in his comments, Mr Iddi said people should look for other things to speak about and leave the union alone for it would persist.

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