Zanzibar’s Vice President Dies After Suffering COVID-19

In this file photo taken on October 27, 2020 Seif Sharif Hamad, the leader of the opposition, gives a press conference at The Alliance for Change and Transparency (ACT) head office in Stone Town, Zanzibar after being released. Zanzibar’s first vice president Seif Sharif Hamad, who led the island’s opposition for three decades, died on February 17, 2021, the president said, after he had been hospitalised for over three weeks with coronavirus. Patrick Meinhardt / AFP

 

Zanzibar’s first vice president, Seif Sharif Hamad, who led the island’s opposition for three decades, died Wednesday, the president said, after he had been hospitalised for over three weeks with coronavirus.

Tanzania and its semi-autonomous island Zanzibar have played down the threat of the virus, which President John Magufuli claims has been fended off by prayer.

However, Hamad’s ACT-Wazalendo party announced in January that the 77-year-old had been hospitalised with the virus, as part of rising evidence of a surge in cases in the country.

“Hamad died this morning at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam where he was hospitalised,” Zanzibar president Ali Hassan Mwinyi said in a short speech broadcast by state-run ZBC television.

“The nation has really lost a patriotic leader. I also declare seven days of mourning and the national flag will fly at half-mast.”

Magufuli also expressed his condolences in a message on Twitter.

Neither leader mentioned the cause of death.

Hamad was born on the island of Pemba, part of the Zanzibar archipelago.

He was a member of Tanzania’s sole ruling party, the CCM, and served as Chief Minister of Zanzibar until being expelled and imprisoned for two years from 1989 to 1991.

In 1992, when Tanzania adopted a multiparty system, Hamad formed the Civic United Front (CUF) party, the main opposition on Zanzibar.

He would go on to face off against CCM candidates in six elections on the volatile island — once a centre of the Arab slave trade — where sectarian and political tensions have always been more marked than on the mainland.

Hamad’s CUF was long seen as more aligned with the old Arab oligarchy, calling for independence from the mainland, however increasingly was supported by African Zanzibaris fed up with economic woes on the island, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a 2019 report.

Hamad alleged that every election was stolen from him, and many foreign observers have agreed. Zanzibar’s elections have often ended in bloodshed.

In 2020, Hamad quit the CUF and ran under the banner of the ACT-Wazalendo opposition party, in an election that saw a brutal crackdown on the islands.

Hamad was arrested twice during the election and his party spokesman Ismail Jussa mercilessly beaten by security forces.

The island teemed with soldiers, police and a militia linked to the ruling party known as “zombies” — clad in black with their faces covered by bandanas — who were feared for rounding up and beating civilians at random.

“We are ready to die for Zanzibar,” Hamad said at his final election rally.

In December, his party decided to join a unity government in a bid to “heal the nation”, and Hamad was named first vice president

Man Drowns While Trying To Propose Underwater

 

An American man has drowned while proposing to his girlfriend underwater at an idyllic island off the coast of Tanzania, a luxury resort said in a statement Sunday.

His girlfriend Kenesha Antoine posted on her Facebook page footage of Steven Weber proposing to her through the window of their underwater hotel room at the luxury Manta Resort in Zanzibar.

“You never emerged from those depths so you never got to hear my answer, ‘Yes! Yes! A million times, yes, I will marry you!!’,” she wrote Friday in a post confirming his death.

Her video shows Weber swimming up to the window, and pressing a handwritten note against it which read: “I can’t hold my breath long enough to tell you everything I love about you, but everything I love about you I love more every day. Will you please be my wife, marry me.”

He then pulled out a ring as Antoine squealed with joy while filming.

It is unclear what went wrong during the proposal at Pemba Island, a popular honeymoon destination.

“We never got to embrace and celebrate the beginning of the rest of our lives together, as the best day of our lives turned into the worst, in the cruelest twist of fate imaginable,” Antoine wrote.

“Knowing him, always quick with an off-color joke, he’s probably entertaining someone with a story about how he royally screwed up that proposal and died while being extra.”

Manta CEO Matthew Saus confirmed to AFP in an email Sunday that “a male guest tragically drowned while freediving alone outside the underwater room” on Thursday.

“The accident is currently under investigation by the local Zanzibar police authority.”

The couple were staying in the resort’s famed “Underwater Room”, a $1,700 (1,500 euro) a-night floating structure offshore in crystal clear waters, where the bed is surrounded by glass windows looking into the ocean.

Election Takes Place In Five African Countries

ElectionVoting is taking place in five countries in Africa which are Benin, Congo-Brazzaville, Niger, Senegal and Zanzibar, in Tanzania.

Nigeriens are voting in a presidential run-off, in which the main challenger, former Prime Minister and parliamentary speaker Hama Amadou, is still in France receiving medical attention, as President Muhammadou Issoufou, hopes to win another term.

Presidential elections are taking place in Congo, Benin, and Zanzibar, where electoral violence marred the presidential elections the last time.

Senegal is voting on presidential term limits that would cut the number of years from Seven to Five for the president, and not allow him to run for more than two consecutive terms in office.