With the Zanzibar general elections set for 2025, the main opposition party, ACT-Wazalendo, has declared its intention to overhaul existing contracts, which they claim are unfavorable to the country, if they come into power.

Ismail Jussa, the Vice Chairman of ACT-Wazalendo for Zanzibar, made this announcement during a meeting with senior party leaders and regional leaders from South Unguja in Dunga, Zanzibar. He stated that many contracts are currently detrimental to the nation and promised that the party would dismantle these contracts and establish new ones if they win the upcoming election.

Jussa’s statement was met with a response from the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM). The CCM claimed that ACT-Wazalendo lacks the capability to make such changes and accused them of trying to gain public sympathy and political popularity as the 2025 elections approach.

Jussa referenced a report published by Mwananchi and The Citizen newspapers on May 24, 2024, which discussed a controversial joint oil procurement process overseen by the Zanzibar Utilities Regulatory Authority (Zura). The process reportedly led to a temporary fuel shortage in Zanzibar.

According to the report, the bids for oil supply were quoted in US dollars per ton: Petro Kenya proposed $66.53, Oilcom $50, Addax $194, Hapco $248, and GBP $272.7. Despite regulations that dictate awarding contracts to the lowest bidder, GBP Tanzania Ltd, the highest bidder, was awarded the contract.

When contacted, Zura’s Director General, Omar Ali Yussuf, neither confirmed nor denied these allegations. He took calls but remained silent on the matter.

In his meeting, Jussa said, “We cannot continue with such practices that harm people. We will cancel all such contracts and start anew when we take power in 2025, God willing.”

On May 26, Khamis Mbeto, Secretary of the NEC Special Committee for Ideology, Publicity, and Training in CCM, addressed these claims, explaining that the government awarded the contract to GBP because the company was willing to supply oil on credit.

Mbeto stated that other companies refused to provide oil on credit, citing rising global energy prices. He emphasized the critical nature of oil, saying, “Oil is the backbone of the country. Even a minute without it disrupts everything in Zanzibar. People struggle to run machines, vehicles, and other essential operations.”

Mbeto argued that the government could not let people suffer by supporting companies that prioritize profit over national interest. He praised GBP for consistently supplying oil for over a year while being paid gradually, a condition other companies failed to meet.

Mbeto accused ACT-Wazalendo leaders of seeking public sympathy and political fame through baseless claims, emphasizing the need for strong opposition parties with visionary leaders who can constructively criticize, research, and uphold patriotism and nationalism.

ACT-Wazalendo Chairman Othman Masoud stated that a responsible leader fights for public and national interests. He encouraged unity in fighting for Zanzibar’s interests, highlighting the urgency for action now as future prospects appear bleak.

Masoud, also the First Vice President of Zanzibar, emphasized the need for immediate efforts to secure Zanzibar’s autonomy. He noted that 54% of Zanzibar’s economy relies on Union sources, warning that if these sources were reclaimed by the Union, Zanzibar would be left with nothing.

According to Masoud, certain areas, like customs, ports, immigration, and oil and gas, are constitutionally under the Union but are currently treated as favors. He stressed that if a leader decided to reintegrate these areas into the Union, Zanzibar would lose significant resources, hence ACT-Wazalendo’s push for full authority to overcome these challenges and end the dependency on favors.