This was a while ago: 2005-04-26 22:02:07 By The Guardian Election Watch Team Current President of Zanzibar AMANI ABEID KARUME has his incumbency facing a big challenge, both from within and without. Within Chama Cha Mapinduzi, DR MOHAMMED GHARIB BILAL, soft spoken scientist turned politician claims that CCM has been losing its political constituency in the Isles. The Guardian Election Watch Team examines the chances of the incumbent president passing the CCM's Special National Executive Committee (NEC) screen test, which is to be carried out today in Zanzibar. Dr Bilal, a learned physics scientist, was once the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education, before he was promoted to become the Isles Chief Minister in 1995 under Dr Salmin Amour's reign. The re-emerging of Dr Bilal in this year?s race scheduled for October 30, rekindles people's moods experienced back in the 2000's general elections. During the race, him and president Amani A. Karume contested intensely for the same post before the party's Congress proclaimed the incumbent president the winner. Believed to be enjoying moral support from former President Dr Salmin, the scientist turned politician has been subjecting the current government to severe criticism. Among others, Dr Bilal says the current leadership has failed to effectively coordinate the party and the government. He says he has been forced to pick the nomination form for the post so as to heed an outcry from wananchi who are not satisfied with the way things are moving in the isles. "The economy of the country is shrinking every passing day," he says. Karume would finish his second term in 2010, should he win this year's election, which Dr Bilal has sought to cut short right at its elementary stage. In his statement to the press, Dr Bilal, who is very precise when it comes to expressing himself, could not mince words on why he is challenging President Karume. He categorically said that he has joined the race after discovering cracks in the ruling party, especially in Zanzibar. He said the current leadership in the Isles has failed to deliver citing the case of mushrooming political parties as a manifestation of the ruling party's failure to perform better. He says this was evident that good governance was lacking. He rejected claims that his decision to enter the race would divide CCM in the Isles into groups of those supporting him and those supporting the incumbent president. "Let us be frank, there are a lot of governance irregularities that are clear in the current government that need new developmental vision," insists Dr Bilal in an interview with the press. If he is endorsed by his party as candidate and later on succeeds to be elected president of the isles, he says, would put emphasis on economic recovery strategies. He says, he will put more efforts on business, agriculture and fisheries sectors. "Those areas have now deteriorated because of poor governance," he adds. According to him, Zanzibar has had a lot of development strategies, but researches that were conducted on those specific opportunities have not been utilised. This is totally an administrative error, he says. I am confident that, I stand a better chance to bring about credible changes in the isles, he affirms. For instance, Dr Bilal says, the Zanzibar Revolutionary Government has not yet prepared itself to compete in the globalised world, despite the fact that it has a policy on globalisation. "There is an urgent need of beefing up the education sector so as to enable Zanzibar enter the competitive East Africa Community market and SADC," he says. Dr Bilal says, the decline in the business sector's efficiency has resulted in the deterioration of the Zanzibar main port, prompting the decrease in money circulation. The impact of this state of affair is the poor living standards being experienced by many people in the Isles, especially the low-income earners, he says. For Dr Bilal, there is an urgent need to review the existing business policies so that they can fit into the rapidly changing global market. Speaking on how the current government has handled the issue of good governance, he says the government has so far failed to impart the concept into the wananchi's mind "It is so important to put more emphasis on the issue of good governance if we are to have an independent government which adheres to the legal basis of humanity and equality for all," he says. "My intention is to put a strong basis that will rekindle the vigour and status of our party...to make it be viewed as a caring institution in the country," he observes. He says, despite good idea of the current government to initiate a ministry responsible for good governance, the concept of good governance seems to be an alien concept among many people. According to him, people have so far failed to utilise good governance concept to iron out their socio-cultural or political differences. In order to get new ideas on how to rule the country, I will embark on a national-wide debate that will focus on how to improve the country's economy and politics in general. I have decided to contest for the post after I have learnt that my party is slowly losing acceptability and support of people it used to enjoy before, he says, adding: "I assure the public?s view that I know how am I going to tilt this prevailing situation." For him, CCM has lost the support it enjoyed before because the current leaders are not interested in meeting the party members at all levels. "Our party is deteriorating in the Isles - this is an open secret," he says. Dr Bilal who is also CCM's National Executive Committee (NEC) member remarks that, he could not assume what he is claiming now during the period when he was the Chief Minister because of the limited powers he had. Like other aspirants, Dr Bilal says he will respect the outcomes of CCM's decision on who is to be the Isles' next president. "I will neither hang myself nor cry since the outcomes will be democratic," he says. Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal is a nuclear physics specialist and a renowned academician. Born in 1945, between 1995 and 2000 he was appointed Chief Minister of Zanzibar when Dr Salmin Amour was serving his second term as Isles president. Prior to that, he was Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education for a period of five years. Then President Benjamin Mkapa was heading the ministry. A Physics doctor at the University of Dar es Salaam since 1983, he has written a number of publications and attended many international conferences, including Second College on Microprocessors; Technology and Applications and Physics in 1986; Conference on Perspectives in Computational Physics in 1987 and Adriatico Research Conference on High Temperature Superconductors in 1988. He has done a number of miscellaneous researches in nuclear physics. Dr Bilal, is definitely a man of great history in Tanzania. He is perhaps one of the few scientists in the country, who have decided to 'hang' all the nuclear physics equations in the lab and take politics as a career. My Take: Binafsi simjui sana Dr. Bilal na sijui sana amefanya nini kisayansi. Hata hivyo, kwa namna fulani naamini huyu bwana siyo mwanasiasa ni mtu anayetakiwa kufungiwa kwenye maabara na test tube, linear calipers, microscopes, Isotopes, culture tubes etc ili akitoka aje na kitu cha maana! So, badala ya kumuacha agombee urais wa Zanzibar why can't we put him in charge of COSTECH? Ssa hivi Dr. Bilal ni mwenyekiti wa Bodi ya Chuo Kikuu kipya cha Dodoma.