Zanzibar: Formation of Political Parties

Extracted from: "Zanzibar" IN Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa (2002), edited by Tom Lodge, Denis Kadima and David Pottie, EISA, 408.

The march towards independence was hastened by the formation of political parties. Before the formation of political parties there were ethnically appointed members in the legislative council. The Zanzibar Nationalist party (ZNP) was founded in December 1955. The Afro-Shirazi Party (ASP) was founded on 5 February 1957 after the merger of two ethnic associations, the African Association formed in 1934 and the Shirazi Association formed in 1938.

Later, both political parties were involved in intra-party conflicts, resulting in some members of the ASP quitting the party and forming the Zanzibar and Pemba Peoples Party (ZPPP) in 1959. Some members of the ZNP quit the party to forin the Umma Party in in 1963. Besides the three big political parties, there were two other small political parties; the Umma Party and the Communist party of Zanzibar founded in 1962.

The establishment of one-party rule in Zanzibar followed a different trend to that on the mainland where the Tanganyika African Nation Party (TANU) enjoyed the support of almost the entire population before independence. In Zanzibar, the two main political parties, ASP and ZNP, had different interests. At the same time both of them had a large number of supporters. When the ZPPP decided to form an alliance with the ZNP, the people of Zanzibar were virtually divided.

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