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Farewell Speech-Ambassador Mark Green

Discussion in 'Jukwaa la Siasa' started by Mfumwa, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. M

    Mfumwa JF-Expert Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Joined: Aug 29, 2008
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    Farewell Reception

    Serena Hotel, Zanzibar
    January 8, 2009; 7 p.m.

    Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Mark Green (as prepared)

    Zanzibaris and Americans have been friends for many, many years. America's official presence on Zanzibar dates back to 1833 when a treaty between the United States and Oman provided for an American consular presence here. We have been trade partners with Zanzibar since the first American ships sailed here from across the oceans looking for whale oil to illuminate the streets of American cities. Later, we brought cotton cloth and guns to trade for ivory and gum copal.

    Today, nearly 200 years later, we remain the largest buyers of Zanzibari agriculture, especially seaweed. American visitors account for a significant share of the tourism industry in Zanzibar. One thing I have come to realize in our American relations with Tanzania is that trade, and more importantly, personal engagement always comes first. Our Government structures follow to secure these things. Before I arrived here--and I am fully confident that long after I am gone--the enduring relationship between our two peoples remains.

    We respect and appreciate Zanzibar's history, its cultural achievements and its unique union with mainland Tanzania. Zanzibaris contributed significantly toward the creation of a language and culture that has spread throughout much of East Africa and beyond. Your music, your architecture, your literature, your handicrafts and the wisdom contained in your proverbs have added to the world's cultural heritage far out of proportion to the size of your population.

    I ask you to keep in mind the long friendship and deep respect our two peoples have come to cherish, as I make some observations about our history. I am making my remarks as the representative of a people who have had some similar experiences to your own. History is an awareness of what has happened to us in the past, so that we can take control of what happens to us now and affect our future. While our views of what happened change from person to person and from moment to moment, the act of self-examination is essential to improving our condition.

    I've made about a dozen trips here in Zanzibar, including visits on my own personal time, with my friends and family, visiting Zanzibari friends and their families. I've been north and south of these islands, having discussions with Tanzanians from both Pemba and Unguja. I ask my Zanzibar friends to remember that I speak as a friend and well wisher. Friends are able to speak openly, honestly and frankly to one another. I wish to discuss with you some of my country's experiences struggling with political issues similar to those that confront Zanzibar's leadership today.

    I wish to share with you tonight a few aspects of American history and suggest points for Zanzibari leaders to think about, as they seek to consult together to determine solutions to today's pressing issues, in order to ensure a more successful tomorrow.

    In particular, I wish to discuss our experiences with political tolerance, with power sharing, and with the prosperity that flows from reconciliation. Perhaps you can draw useful lessons from some of the poor choices Americans have made in the past.

    My country's history resembles that of Zanzibar in several ways. We too had a revolution against a monarchy. It is important to note that in the late 1700s, not all Americans agreed with the struggle for independence from the British King. Our war for independence from Britain was, in part, a civil war amongst Americans. When revolutionary forces captured an area, it was common for the property of those who were loyal to the King to be confiscated by the revolutionary government. Known loyalists were arrested as potential spies. And after the British defeat, many thousands of loyalists fled from the former colonies. Many took refuge in Canada, a Commonwealth country to this day.

    In principle, we Americans believe that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. However, during a life and death struggle against what was then the mightiest empire on earth, our leaders did not extend that right to those who believed it was their duty to remain loyal to their King. Soon after we won independence, we were faced with another test of political tolerance when two fiercely-opposed factions arose within American society. Our second President, John Adams, feared that these factions would tear the country apart. He noted that each faction was supported by one of the two super-powers of the day, Britain and France, who were engaged in a world war. He wished to continue the non-aligned policy of the father of our nation, George Washington. He introduced laws, known as the Alien and Sedition Acts, which, among other things, severely limited the right of free speech. He defended these laws as necessary evils to prevent political passions from destroying the nation.

    Historians judged his solution harshly, as did American voters. He lost his bid for re-election. The laws were repealed by his successor on the grounds that they were an affront to human rights. Restoration of the free expression of political opinion contributed to a return to social harmony. The dangers that Adams feared were real, but a better solution would have been for President Adams to use his influence to cool inflammatory rhetoric and to call publicly for all leaders to put the long-term best interests of the country ahead of short-term political interests.

    Turning to today's Zanzibar, I note the heated rhetoric that some partisans from both sides of the political divide use about their rivals. Honest political disagreements can be – and should be – discussed respectfully between fellow citizens who share a common desire for the well-being of their shared community. The political climate of these isles would improve if the leaders of Zanzibar's major political parties publicly declared that they respect their rivals as patriotic Zanzibaris and Tanzanians.

    Demokrasia ni majadiliano. Democracy is dialogue. Dialogue requires mutual respect. By all means, discuss, debate, even argue about Zanzibar's policy options, but remember that political rivals are not enemies. Leaders have a duty to teach their supporters this truth and to correct those supporters who put party interests ahead of the interests of the community. Responsible leaders denounce irresponsible supporters.

    In the 1860's America fought a Civil War. We fought over how much freedom a region had within the national government. We fought over slavery. That conflict included violence against civilians and destruction of civilian property. After the slaughter stopped, it took us years to recover. Decades later, at the same moment in history when we emerged onto the world's stage as a great power, we also began to heal our society by making progress in reconciling Blacks and Whites in a way that had gone largely unaddressed 100 years after our Civil War. Regions of the country characterized by the greatest degree of racial intolerance were also the poorest, least educated and most ill-governed areas of the country. Once progress was made in reconciliation, these areas experienced rapid economic, social and political progress.

    Zanzibar shares our sad history of political violence, slavery and the devastating consequences of extreme social and political divisions. We all know that the end of British colonial rule in Zanzibar was soon followed by a violent uprising against the first post-independence government. Sadly, that uprising included violence against civilians, as had also occurred during the American civil war. It takes a spirit of political tolerance and openness to public discussion of painful historical events to overcome such bitter history so that the community can move forward. My country knows this, as we had to do the same to overcome the bitterness left behind by certain episodes in our own past.

    Allow me to discuss the concept of power sharing. Our constitution, the supreme law of the United States, divides power between Federal and State governments. At both the Federal and State levels, power is further divided between the executive, legislative and judicial branches. It is common in the United States for one party to head the executive while another party heads the legislature. It is also common for the President to choose some ministers (we call them Secretaries) from the rival party. President Bush did this, as did his predecessor, President Clinton. President-elect Obama has also done the same by naming members of the opposition party to lead two cabinet departments, including the Department of Defense. Likewise, in the legislature, it is common for members of one party to join members of the rival party in support of a law opposed by their own party's leadership. No leader can ever have everything go entirely his way forever. No party ever wins 100% of power. No party is ever completely shut out of power. Today's opponent may be tomorrow's ally. No group should feel permanently alienated from government.

    I am convinced that much of the bitterness in Zanzibari politics stems from traditions of political exclusivity. During the Omani, Portuguese, Sultanate and British periods, power was exclusively held in the hands of a few. There was little or no consultation or consideration of the interests of the majority of Zanzibaris. One side had all the power and the rest had none. To lose power was to lose everything. To a significant degree, this tradition survives today. Even though the form of government changed and the identity of the governing class changed, the zero-sum, all or nothing, winner-takes- all political tradition did not. I believe that for Zanzibar society and its economy to flourish, for Zanzibar to begin to tap its full potential, Zanzibari politics must come to be characterized by compromise, mutual respect and shared responsibility.

    Before my service as a diplomat, I was a politician and served in public office as a member of the Republican Party. Many Tanzanians have voiced their concern about the continuity of America's major engagement here. President George W. Bush has led the largest commitment against a specific disease -- AIDS -- the world has ever seen.

    Moreover, the President's Malaria Initiative has produced a dramatic decline in deaths from that disease in these isles. The Millennium Challenge Account, which will fund a new and improved power cable connecting Unguja to the mainland and roads in Pemba, is another key pillar of the American commitment in Zanzibar. I assure you that these people-to-people activities transcend American political rivalries. I was privileges to be in Washington last August during President Kikwete's meeting at the White House with President Bush. My president assured your president that our strengthening friendship would continue during the next Administration- -regardless of who is the American president.

    During that same trip, I personally followed-up on these assistance programs with the U.S. Congress—a Democratic Party-controlled Congress under a Republican President. Leaders from both major parties worked together to allocate funds for our key programs in Tanzania because they saw the wisdom in strengthening our partnership with the Tanzanian people. This is the sort of attitude I am talking about. Political rivals? Sure! Enemies? Never! That which unites us is greater than that which divides us.

    The first member of my party to be elected President of the United States was Abraham Lincoln. He once said, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." I have had the honor of meeting Zanzibar's leaders. I believe they can pass such a test. At the same time, I want to make it clear to leaders from all sides that we prioritize our relations with the Zanzibari people over our relations with any one leader or party.

    Once political competition in Zanzibar is channeled within a structure that reassures all citizens that their rights will be respected, even if their political rivals are in power, then governance will improve, severe resource disparities among the islands will equalize and the full economic potential of these islands will be realized. This is the moral thing to do. It is common sense. It is also good business sense. Everyone wins. Investors and tourists are attracted to well-governed, stable regions. They stay away from areas plagued by conflict and poor governance. Power sharing is not a matter of one side losing something and the other side gaining something. Power sharing is a way for all Zanzibaris and both major political parties to gain security and prosperity. That is what we most wish for all our Zanzibari friends. That is what we ourselves witnessed when regions of my country that most suffered from severe social divisions began to reconcile. The result was social renewal, improved governance and greater prosperity.

    Leaders must help their supporters see that Zanzibaris are best served by politics in which no one completely wins and no one completely loses. In such politics, those in the majority realize that unless they produce results for the voters, they will soon find themselves in the minority. Voters learn to judge political parties and politicians by the results they produce, not by anything else such as their ethnic or regional identities or by their historical loyalties.

    When President Kikwete took office, he declared that reconciliation on Zanzibar was his highest domestic priority. He said, "I know that the final decision concerning the political and future leadership of Zanzibar depends on Zanzibaris themselves. But we have one republic, one country. What happens in Zanzibar affects us all." My country's policy is to fully support President Kikwete's efforts to work with Zanzibar's leaders to bring reconciliation to these isles.

    American President John F. Kennedy, a friend to Africa, once said, "Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate." As friends of Tanzania, and friends of Zanzibar for many years, let me suggest that the two parties must not be afraid to negotiate. A negotiation in which each side gives . . . and both sides gain.

    I am confident that Zanzibar's current set of political leaders are capable of reaching a power sharing agreement and implementing it in a sincere fashion that serves the best interests of all Zanzibaris. I believe these leaders will agree on an arrangement that gives confidence to all political players so that the 2010 elections in Zanzibar will be free, fair and peaceful. This is crucial, because Zanzibar cannot afford another controversial and disputed election. The make up of the post-2010 election power sharing government should be based on the will of the Zanzibari people as expressed through peaceful, free and fair elections. My confidence is based on the conviction that the leaders of the rival parties have Zanzibar's best interests at heart and on my knowledge that Zanzibar's leaders can count on the goodwill and assistance of their fellow Tanzanians in the Union government and of the American people.

    Thank you for honoring me with your presence this evening. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to serve here, and I wish you a fond farewell.

    Thank you, Asanteni!
  2. s

    skasuku Senior Member

    Jan 12, 2009
    Joined: Apr 19, 2008
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    Well thought & prepared speach! Sasa Wazanzibari wafunguke macho, waoune mbali.

    Hawa viongozi wetu sometimes wana private agenda's. Cant wait for 2010... bring on Mwafaka!!