Zanzibar has new driving licence and number plates By WILFRED EDWIN THE EAST ARICAN Posted Friday, January 9 2009 at 14:43 In a move seen by many as an attempt at asserting its sovereignty, Zanzibar is issuing new integrated driving licences and new automotive registration numbers. The new driving licence makes the Isles the first country in East Africa to have a drivers' licence with complete personal information including Taxpayer's Identification Number. Taxpayers Services and Education Manager at the Zanzibar Revenue Board Rashid Ali Juma told The EastAfrican that the driving licence forms a comprehensive database of integrated personal information. Mr Juma said more than 70,000 automotives - motor vehicles, motorcycles and tricycles - have been re-registered with new numbers. The new registration system, which kicked off in September last year with the ante "Z101 AAA" is seen as a move to counter mainland Tanzania's decision to re-register its vehicles with new numbers in which the islanders were excluded. Zanzibar is already treating motor vehicles with Tanzania mainland registration as foreign, meaning they have to either pay for a foreign permit fees, or apply for the Isles' new numbers. The move has affected some 500 out of the about 35,000 vehicles on Zanzibar's roads, according to reports of the recent on-road census jointly conducted by Zanzibar Revenue Board, the Tanzania Revenue Authority and the Road Traffic Police. Analysts say Zanzibar's move is aimed at both retaining its identity and furthering sovereignty. Motor vehicle registration is not covered in Union affairs under the constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania. The mainland has been treating Zanzibar registered motor vehicles as foreign ones. When the mainland embarked on a project to re-register its motor vehicles, it excluded Zanzibar - the argument being that project funds from donors did not include the Isles. According to sources, Zanzibar was asked to raise over $500,000 for the countrywide exercise, "but we could not afford such a big amount," said an official. However, even after the Isles built itself the capacity to do so, it was difficult to integrate the registration project into the mainlands because the Members of the House of Representatives saw it was unwise to forfeit the identity of "ZNZ" to the Mainland's "T" ante. Under the new Zanzibar Registration Act of 2005, any motor vehicle bearing registration numbers other than Zanzibar's is a foreign vehicle. At a recent seminar on tax administration, representatives demanded to know why Zanzibar vehicles with "ZNZ" registration were treated as foreign on the mainland. According to the Tanzania Revenue Authority, the difficulties in administering vehicle registration between the two sides stem from the differences in tax administration laws. As a result, vehicles imported from Zanzibar are subjected to fresh tax assessment. At the heart of the problem is the fact that the tax exemption law is not applicable to both parties of the Union. Administration of the Union taxes in Zanzibar is under TRA. These are Customs duty, excise duty on imports and income tax. TRA collects the tax and remits it to the Zanzibar government.