Politically, there are just two peoples in Zanzibar: those who believe in an independent nation and those who believe in the dependent one. Both do have their reasons and, like them or not, they are not weak.
The thing is, no matter how small in geographical size the country is, Zanzibar has been so big to be contained by either side of this political divide. Not anytime in the history of the Indian Ocean Island state when one faction of political ideology was successful in getting the country forward.
This historical fact is almost a century old now and seems to be remaining forever, unless Zanzibaris are able to change the existing political map – which is not foreseeable in the near future.
There are many factors, both real and artificial, that makes each side of the bridge resistant to the idea of crossing it. For those who believe in an independent Zanzibar, they are stuck to the moment when their country was a great nation in the region that attracted many people to come and many ideas to blossom which resulted into the 19th century renaissance.
But a series of events afterwards – from British colonialism to annexation to Tanganyika – reduced the Great Empire into a tiny controlled estate. For the Zanzibari nationalists, this is a much bitter reality to swallow. How they wished it to be otherwise!
For the darlings of dependence, the story is vice versa. Before 1964, there was no independent nation called Zanzibar. What was there, for them, was an Arab sultanate that was ruled by some distant foreigners. The action taken by a close big brother – which they call revolution – enabled to change the axis of power. The distant foreigner was kicked out and the ‘natives’ came into the throne. Ever since, the power of the big brother has been both prominent and dominant, but it is a reasonable price to pay. For them!
This divide is known to almost everyone who is following political developments in Zanzibar. Some few efforts were made by the wise leaders to have these two camps living and working together for a better Zanzibar, but getting those who believe in independence and those who believe in dependence (the state of relying on or being controlled by someone else) trust each other is not easy. The efforts came to its climax after the July 2010 Referendum that paved the way for constitutional reforms which made government of national unity an obligation for the running of the country. But, then, it too lived for just five years (2010 – 2015) as it did not dwell well with the real power that governs.
The darlings of dependence had made it clear even before 2010 general elections, that they would not allow the unity government to function as it was threatening their interests. They were and, still are, afraid. They do have fear. For them, this type of government is the last step before their opponents achieve their dream of an independent Zanzibar. They cannot stomach such moment in their lifetime.
It was unfortunate for them that the head of government by that time, Mr. Amani Karume, was determined to see it happens and so it did. However, as Mr. Karume was leaving the office after completing his constitutional mandate in 2010, they soon managed to do what they had vowed – to stop the government of national unity by any means necessary!
But if the truth is to be said, apart from ‘being enabled’ to stay in power, the darlings of dependence have not achieved anything more in running of the country. And they can not! The maximum they can alone do is to be there, but not to move the nation forward as their counterparts in Indian Ocean do.
But similar can be argued against the lovers of independence (freedom from being governed or ruled by another country). Though, mathematically one could argue, the majority of Zanzibaris belong to this side of the divide, but practically, as long as they stick to their fantansy of Zanzibari Dream, they will never be allowed to come to power to implement their vision towards that greatness. Both internal and external forces are strong enough to stop such dream becoming true. At least in a near forseeable future!
Internally, they have been faced with harsh treatments from their opponents – the big brother and his nice guys on the islands. Externally, the so-called international community is more satisfied with a Zanzibar under occupation than a free and independent one. The West, which is what meant here by international community, is not to be trusted when it comes to Zanzibar position in the geopolitical map. They have proven so at least in the last 100 years.
Therefore, none gets the whole in the current Zanzibar political scenario. On one hand, though the darlings of dependence have all physical powers to stay in the government, but they lack legal and political legitimacy amongst Zanzibaris and, above all, the brain to move the country to its prosperity. On the other hand, the lovers of independence have the mass support with them, hence a strong political base, but lack the machinery to come to power.
For either side to get what the other possess, there must be a compromise from both sides, which will include some great concessions. The government of national unity gives every side something to stand for, one which transforms into self-satisfaction and that is a driving force for any nation to prosper.