Zanzibar Wants Union Constitution Overhauled By The Guardian reporter, 13th August 2010 Justice minister Chikawe not ready to comment on such a sensitive and delicate issue on phone Zanzibar said yesterday it wants Tanzanias Constitution changed to accommodate the amendments made to its own by the Isles House of Representatives earlier this week. Hamza Hassan Juma, Minister of State in the Zanzibar Chief Ministers Office, said in an exclusive interview with this paper that some of the amendments were geared at finding lasting solutions to political disputes specific to the Isles and were not meant to breaking up the April 29, 1964 Union. Rather than seek to interfere with the Union Constitution, these constitutional transformations are intended to strengthen the Union between Zanzibar and Tanganyika, he said. He added: We have amended our (Zanzibar) Constitution in a spirited bid to put things right, though in the future it will surely be necessary to overhaul the Union Constitution to be in line with the changes made to that of Zanzibar. Juma noted that sections 1and 2 of the Zanzibar Constitution, which referred to Zanzibar as part of the United Republic of Tanzania, has been expunged. He said in the place of the two sections now lies a clause suggesting that Zanzibar is a fully fledged state whose territory will be the whole area covering Unguja and Pemba and all other surrounding islands and territorial waters and before the 1964 Union making up the Peoples Republic of Zanzibar. He added that the House of Representatives also revised clause 61 (1) so as to empower the President of Zanzibar to appoint regional commissioners for the Isles without consulting the Union President, as has hitherto obtained. Contacted for comment, Union Constitutional Affairs and Justice minister Mathias Chikawe said he was not in a position to comment on such a sensitive and delicate matter in a telephone interview. Do you want me to comment on such a sensitive and delicate issue on the phone? No way! You do not know me, and nor do I know you. Find time so that we meet to discuss that matter, he said, and hung up. A number of politicians and lawyers have said the amendments would likely lead to the conflicts between the mainlanders and Zanzibaris. Founding President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere once said were possible unless the countrys unity was consolidated by having the Constitution respected and defended. United Democratic Party national chairman John Cheyo said the concept of reverting to and recognising Zanzibar pre-Union boundaries will automatically kill the fact that Zanzibar is part of the United Republic of Tanzania. Dr Edmund Sengondo Mvungi, a constitutional lawyer and long-serving lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, meanwhile bluntly stated that endorsing the amendments meant having two sovereign states within the Union structure. But Civic United Front (CUF) secretary general Seif Shariff Hamad applauded the House of Representatives for successfully fighting for amendments which have made it possible for Zanzibar to count and be recognised as a country within the Union. The amendments are not meant to dismantle the Union. They are for the benefit of Zanzibars residents and future generations, he told a rally at Ungujas Mwembetanga grounds on Tuesday. The constitutional changes also sought to pave the way for the formation of government of national unity (GNU) in Zanzibar, mainly involving the ruling CCM and the opposition CUF, after the October General Election. The GNUs birth would be the culmination of a long process partly made possible by a referendum held on July 31 this year following reconciliation initiated last November by Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume and the CUF secretary general. The reconciliation was part of a strategy to bury political conflicts which emerged particularly in the wake of the 1995, 2000 and 2005 Zanzibar presidential elections, whose results in favour of CCM, the opposition always dismissed as awfully manipulated. The referendum saw the GNU plan approved by 66.4 per cent of all voters in the Isles. The hotly contested amendments to the Zanzibar Constitution were tabled by Ramadhan Abdallah Shaaban, Minister of State in the Zanzibar Presidents Office (Constitutional Affairs and Good Governance), and unanimously endorsed by the House of Representatives on Monday. The controversial development drew mixed opinions, some Union ministers and Attorney General Frederick Werema requested for time to reflect on the matter before they could make any comments.