July 17, 2008

Zanzibar says no to oil sharing

The sensitive issue of sharing of resources between Zanzibar and Tanzania Mainland cropped up in the House of Representatives as the debate on the sovereignty of the Isles refused to die.
Zanzibar's Minister for Natural Resources, Works, Energy and Lands, Mr Mansour Yussuf Himid, declared that any oil extracted in Zanzibar would not be shared with the mainland. He told the House of Representatives that Zanzibar had not benefited from natural gas discoveries on the mainland to warrant sharing of oil in the event of commercially viable deposits being found in Pemba and Unguja.

The minister's remarks during the ongoing budget session drew support among both Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) and opposition Civic United Front (CUF) representatives who later, and unlike the case for other ministries, unanimously endorsed his budget proposals. The declaration on oil sharing echoed similar sentiments that were publicly made in the past by Chief Minister Shamsi Vuai Nahodha, but significantly mirrored in on the ongoing controversy whether Zanzibar was a country with sovereign mandate outside the union government.

In Dodoma, the Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda afterwards once again stood his ground in defending the constitutional interpretation of the status of Zanzibar. He told parliamentarians that allowing Zanzibar's sovereignty would be a drawback to the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar that created the United Republic of Tanzania in 1964. "There is already a countrywide debate on that issue, despite my advice to leave it to lawyers. Let me remind you that when Zanzibar and Tanganyika united in 1964, both Tanganyika and Zanzibar lost their sovereignty. Giving Zanzibar sovereignty will mean ending the Union and I would not like to be among the pioneers of ending the union," he said. (The Citizen, Dar es Salaam)

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