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The events in Zanzibar emphasized the close connection and effective lack of distinction between government authority and the exercise of power based on membership in the ruling CCM. Complicity between CCM party members and local government officials and the security forces was a recurring theme in the testimonies from victims collected by Human Rights Watch. These identified three groups of ruling party members as involved in the violent suppression of the demonstrations: wanagambo (local militia), shehas (village authorities), and maskans (CCM youth supporters).

Local Militia (Wanagambo)

The wanagambo[singular, mgambo], effectively an armed wing of the CCM, is a civilian militia that is usually deployed for community policing. Its members, drawn from the youth of the party, usually do not carry guns but receive basic military training from the army and police. During the events of January 2001, the local wanagambo were deployed against the CUF demonstrators. On Unguja Island, they were given arms and stationed at the police station in Madema, but ultimately not used.180 In Pemba, however, especially at Wete and Micheweni, witnesses saw wanagambo operating in close collaboration with the police. One witness from a village outside Wete described what he saw:

The wanagambo are not police. They are people who learn to march and shoot from the CCM officers at the branches. One of them is from my village. But I saw him in a group of police officers [in Limbani, Wete]. I know him. He was wearing mgambo clothing, those green clothes. He had a club. I saw him when the police were shooting at us at the Agriculture Office. When the police put that big gun on the ground, he was standing to the side with his club. There's another one from Shidi village. I saw him passing in a police car. I know him. He was wearing mgambo clothes. He had a rifle. And what he said when he came back to the village, he said, "We've got them! And today, a beautiful young man came to the police station. I shot him two times in a row. He is already dead." He was bragging.181

Another local militia member was seen assisting police arrest members of a family who had been observing events at the Fourways roundabout from the window of their house, including an elderly woman who could not walk unassisted:

The FFU [riot police] officer who had arrested them did not want to beat the old woman. So he just ordered her to the police station. She was accompanied by a small child who stays with her. The line of police who were beating people as they entered the police station let her pass. Except for one. He drives a bicycle around that has lots of CCM stickers all over it. Well, he hit that old woman on the back, several times. He said, "Even you [participated]! Even you!" He beat her all the way inside.182

In Micheweni, a militia member from Finya was seen in a car, wearing a uniform and pointing out CUF members to soldiers.183 Some local militia members were also involved in the searching of homes and looting of property. In Mchangamdogo, one mgambo, accompanied by maskans, "came into town with lots of food. They had rice, sugar, knives, and soap. They don't have the money to buy these things. In town a kilo of rice is TShs. 300 [U.S. $0.30]. From them, you could by it for TShs. 150 [U.S. $0.15]."184

Local authorities (Shehas)

With the introduction of multipartyism in Zanzibar in 1992, a formal distinction was made between party leadership and local administration, and the office of sheha was re-introduced to replace the leadership of CCM party chair and "Ten Cell Leaders", who had since the 1964 revolution acted simultaneously as ward administrators and party activists. Prior to the revolution, shehas were popularly elected by local residents. Unlike the pre-revolutionary shehas, however, modern shehas are little more than party chairs under a new name. They continue to be appointed by the government, and are, invariably, members of the CCM. Shehas have the authority to order police to conduct searches and to make arrests.

Since 1992, they have conducted censes in their wards to ascertain the party membership. They were signally involved in arbitrarily denying registration to suspected opposition supporters who qualified as voters during the pre-election period, and, particularly in Pemba, exercise surveillance and significant authority over the local people.185

Throughout the period preceding and following the January 27, 2001, demonstrations, shehas and their assistants were instrumental in pointing out CUF homes and families to police. One woman described to Human Rights Watch how she had received two visits from officers of the police intelligence division accompanied by thirty other police, who were seeking her husband, a prominent CUF member. "The sheha tells the police who is a CUF member, and then he brings the police to your house. They have come to my house many times."186

A teacher from Gando made the following observation:

All members of the ruling party, CCM, have access to instruments of the state, by virtue of being party members. People who are not police or soldiers think that because they are close to the mechanisms of power, by virtue of being members of CCM, that they can do what they like. In some cases they killed and maimed people and taunted people. In the district of Gando there are only fifteen policemen. They don't have the means to supervise all the comings and goings of people's daily lives. But these normal people who belong to CCM take their domestic disputes to the police who then suppress citizens.187

In the house-to-house searches in Wete, the shehas of some wards reportedly played a lead role in identifying residents for police investigation, search, and arrest. In Wingwi, Micheweni, one resident described how the police came to his house to arrest him in the company of the sheha, a week after the demonstration:

Three regular police came into the house, banged on the door, and forced their way in. They came inside and slapped and roughed up my three teenage daughters, the youngest of whom is ten. They beat them with their fists. The sheha was with them, not in the house, but guiding the police.188

In Chake Chake, house searches and lootings were concentrated in at least one area near the home of the sheha of Mkanjuni. One woman whose house was broken into and entered by forty soldiers said the soldiers had a piece of paper listing the names of eight homeowners who had been singled out. Another interviewee observed:

The shehas are the guardians of their areas, so how can it be that after the demonstrations were over they could allow things to continue? They know everything. They keep records. They have ultimate authority. The sheha is my neighbor, and his assistants live right across from the house, which was most hard hit."189

CCM youth supporters (Maskans)

Some ordinary CCM members, known as maskans, were also involved in the violence. Some were seen holding clubs or guns on the day of the demonstrations. Others worked as drivers, transporting groups of KMKM coastguards and CCM militia from place to place. One man from Wete stated:

Two maskans I know, both of them frequent the Amani CCM branch. One was driving the KMKM around. I saw him myself. He was holding a gun and was wearing a police uniform. He isn't a policeman. I know him. He lives in Kizimbani. He went up to Raha, driving the KMKM in the green CCM car. It's an official party car. At Raha, he told the KMKM and the soldiers who to shoot.190

Another witness reported seeing maskans he knew as inhabitants of Wete brought to Wete police station on the afternoon of January 27, 2001, in two trucks belonging to the Zanzibar State Trading Corporation. It was widely believed that these maskans were given clubs and taken to Konde area to assist security forces in house searches and arrests. One witness said:

Some Wete maskans were dropped off at the police station, coming from the villages. They all got off with clubs in their hands. I thought they came from the villages, because I hadn't seen them all day. I knew their faces. They were in ordinary clothes, but they all had a club.191

This same witness also saw eight people brought to the Wete police station earlier that day in a car used for local transportation between Wete and Konde, suggesting further complicity between CCM members and security forces from at least two army camps in Pemba:

Two Defender jeeps came from the Makuwe Army Camp [in the north of Pemba]. I knew they came from there because their vehicles are white, but the vehicles from the Vitongoji Army camp [at Chake Chake] are gray. They were led by an armored vehicle, and behind them was a bus No. 35 [Konde route]. The bus drove right up to the police station and the police took out eight people. Every person who was taken out was dragged by the arms. They weren't able to walk. Each one was soaked with blood. Only one of them could move on his own, and he was limping badly. The others had to be dragged.192

Others described maskans inside the police station. Salum was assaulted in the police station in Wete as police looked on:

In the police station, a citizen who is not any kind of security personnel, but a CCM member, tried to cut me with a machete in the police station in front of the head of police. As he was trying to cut me, I ducked and it passed over my head. I stood up. As soon as I stood up he swung at me again and I sat down suddenly. As I sat down, the tip of the machete caught my cheek.193

180 Human Rights Watch interview, Zanzibar Town, August 9, 2001.

181 Human Rights Watch Interview, Dar es Salaam, August 3, 2001.

182 Human Rights Watch interview, Dar-es-Salaam, August 3, 2001.

183 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 10, 2001.

184 Human Rights Watch interview, Dar-es-Salaam, August 3, 2001.

185 See also, International Federation for Human Rights and Legal and Human Rights Centre, "Zanzibar: Wave of Violence," June 1, 2001, available at

186 Human Rights Watch interview, New York, July 14, 2001.

187 Human Rights Watch interview, Pemba, August 3, 2001.

188 Human Rights Watch interview, Micheweni, August 10, 2001.

189 Human Rights Watch interview, Chake Chake, August 7, 2001.

190 Human Rights Watch interview, Dar es Salaam, August 3, 2001.

191 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 10, 2001.

192 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 10, 2001.

193 Human Rights Watch interview, Wete, August 2, 2001.

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