March 1, 2006

Zanzibaris must carry identity cards by 1 April

Beginning on 1 April, all adult Zanzibaris must carry identification cards or be subject to prosecution, Suleiman Nyanga, the island's minister of local administration and the security forces, has announced. To qualify for an identity card, one must be a maximum of 18 years, Tanzanian of Zanzibari birth or a mainland Tanzanian who has lived on the island for at least 10 consecutive years and does not have a criminal record. Eligible Zanzibaris who refuse to register for the document could be liable to a one-year jail term, a fine of US $100, or both.
Nyanga said the law would not affect non-Zanzibaris, including mainland Tanzanians, "as we work out possibilities of having temporary IDs for non-Zanzibaris."

At the time the identity card idea was introduced, the main opposition Civic United Front (CUF) party denounced it as a government plot to undermine the opposition and favour the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party in the 2005 general elections. However, the Zanzibar government has denied this. "The aim of having the IDs in Zanzibar is clear. [It is] just for security reasons, and to help Zanzibaris have easy movement within the East African region," Nyanga said. Zanzibar used to have identity cards for its citizens in the 1960s. They were abolished in the early 1990s to strengthen the Tanzania union. Now, both parts of the union - Tanganyika and Zanzibar - have decided to reintroduce identity cards. (Rts)

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