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Last Updated: Monday, 26 April, 2004, 07:38 GMT 08:38 UK
Strains within Tanzania's union
By Daniel Dickinson
BBC, Zanzibar

I recently saw two first division football teams battle for points at the Mao Tse Tung stadium in Zanzibar's Stonetown.

Julius Nyerere
Former President Nyerere was a pillar of the union
It may have been a normal Saturday afternoon match, but it was one which has taken on a new significance.

The Football Association of Zanzibar has recently been told that it can be a full member of Fifa, world football's governing body, rather than coming under the umbrella of Tanzania.

It may seem a small concession but for fiercely proud Zanzibaris it's an important move, a chance to put their island on the world map.

Fifa membership comes just as Zanzibar has revealed that it will soon unveil its own national flag rather than using the Tanzanian colours.

Capitalist system

These are both small but highly symbolic developments, perhaps a sign as the 40th anniversary of the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar is marked, that the latter wants more than ever before to exert its own identity.

It was a political and economic decision to bring these two sovereign states together coming in the wake of independence from the British colonial authorities.

Tourists in Zanzibar
Our economy has been suppressed and our development has been held back by 100 years
Najma Khalfan
Looking back over the past 40 years, retired Zanzibari politician, Hassan Moyo, who was a minister in the first union government said the union has benefited his people.

"The people of Zanzibar have all the rights of the union, they can travel freely and can do business. Zanzibaris recognise the value of this and so have always supported the union," said Mr Moyo.

The union deal has allowed Zanzibar to remain semi-autonomous with its own president, while benefiting from the economic and political clout of the mainland.

It has outlasted huge political change not least the move away from a socialist to a capitalist system.

Poor Infrastructure

There are no credible moves towards withdrawing Zanzibar from the union and going independent, but there are dissenting voices.

Cuf supporters at a rally in Zanzibar
The main opposition party feels the union has been unfair to Zanzibar
One is the main opposition party in Tanzania, the Civic United Front, (Cuf) which has its stronghold in Zanzibar.

Its Zanzibar-based Deputy Director of Information, Najma Khalfan said the last 40 years have not been good for the island archipelago.

"We have less political power now than when the union was formed. Our economy has been suppressed and our development has been held back by 100 years," she said.

The drop in living standards, the deterioration in infrastructure, schools and medical care are common complaints from Zanzibaris.

Mining royalties

But mainlanders too have similar gripes, according to Professor Haroub Othman, a political analyst at the University of Dar es Salaam.

"The mainlanders also complain of not getting good deal from union. This probably reflects the poor state of the Tanzanian economy in recent years," said Prof Othman.

The Tanzanian economy is beginning to push its way out this decline, on the back of huge revenues from tourism in Zanzibar and the mainland as well as royalties from mining activities.

If an improving economy translates into better living standards across Tanzania, the union will probably attract less criticism.

Zanzibar will then have to make do with exerting its own identity through its new national flag and football team.

Zanzibar seeks separate flag
02 Apr 04  |  Africa
Zanzibar marks 40th anniversary
12 Jan 04  |  Africa
Tanzania roads get facelift
31 Oct 03  |  Africa
Tanzania after Nyerere
31 Oct 00  |  Africa
Country profile: Tanzania
01 Mar 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Tanzania
16 Apr 04  |  Country profiles

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