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Zanzibar’s 1st Vice President Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad is dead

Veteran Zanzibari politician and 1st Vice President of the archipelago Island of Zanzibar Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad has died at the age of 77 in the morning February 17 2021.

The announcement was made by the president of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council Hussein Mwinyi who declared Seven Days of national mourning.

Tanzanian president John Magufuli, sent messages of condolence to President Mwinyi and the people of Zanzibar on the untimely death Maalim who was also the chairman of the opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency party (ACT-Wazalendo).

“I have received with sadness the news of the death of Hon. Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, the First Vice President of Zanzibar. I send my condolences to the President of Zanzibar Hon. Dr. Mwinyi, Family, Zanzibaris, ACT-Wazalendo members and all Tanzanians. May his soul Rest in Peace,” wrote Magufuli on Twitter.

Although the cause of the Vice President’s death was not made clear, reports indicate that he was hospitalized on January 31 at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital in Zanzibar after testing positive for Coronavirus. On February 9, 2021, Maalim was admitted at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), in Dar es es Salaam untill his death on Wednesday, February 17 at 11:26 in the morning.

Maalim was the senior most government official to declare that he had the virus in a country that has been accused by health experts of downplaying the threat posed by Covid19. Mr. Hamad’s political party Act Wazalendo has been critical of the Tanzanian government policy on Covid.

Maalim who joined politics as a member of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party, was expelled in 1988 after falling out with the party leadership. He was Zanzibar’s Chief Minister between 1984 and 1988 before he joined the opposition where he unsuccessfully vied six times for president of Zanzibar under the CUF party in polls that were largely disputed.

In January 2001 more than a dozen of his supporters were shot dead in Pemba as they were protesting the results of the 2000 elections.

Hamad’s eloquence and charisma gave him a wide following in Zanzibar who stood by him wherever he went and thus when he left the CUF due to an internal wrangle, thousands of his supporters followed him to the ACT-Wazalendo party. He was alwasy in the wrong books of the government which detained him several times

Following the 2020 general elections which were equally disputed, Maalim was appointed the 1st Vice President by Zanzibar’s President Hussein Mwinyi, taking advantage of section 9 (3) of the Zanzibar Constitution which calls for political rivals to work together in a Government of National Unity to cement cohesion in the isles with troubled political history.

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