We are encouraged by President John Magufuli’s remarks that the doors for talks on the Zanzibar political impasse are still open. We are encouraged because for a long time the President has remained silent despite repeated calls for his intervention in the issue.

Granted, there are legal implications regarding how Dr Magufuli, the Union President, can intervene on a matter that is strictly under Zanzibar’s jurisdiction if we abide by the Constitution. However, at hand is a sensitive political issue in which the President’s word can bring a whole lot of difference.

Therefore, his statement that the government — and here we believe he is referring to the Union government — is ready for talks is reassuring. However, we are perturbed that while welcoming talks on the impasse, President Magufuli is also categorical that the March 20 repeat elections will go ahead as planned.

Our apprehension here is that the government has already put conditions for the talks. We feel that this is likely to impede discussions, for the government has not come out with an open mind that would facilitate free debate.

Putting pre-conditions for the talks might jolt the opposition — read CUF —a nd make it stay away. This will not work as far as what the government intends to achieve is concerned.

We are saying this because CUF (the Civic United Front), for its part, has stressed that the election rerun is uncalled for. This means that putting the repeat elections as a condition in the anticipated talks would stall the process.

It would be better for both parties to go to the talks with no strings attached and listen to what the other side is saying. It is from this position that both parties might draw the way forward after noting the concerns of the other.

We fully support the idea of resolving the Zanzibar political impasse through talks because that is the surest way of finding a lasting solution to any crisis.

Source ; The Citizen

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