UMATI calls for improvement of Shehas offices in Zanzibar


UMATI calls for improvement of Shehas offices in Zanzibar

The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar has been urged to implement its 2014 Act number 7 and 8 in order to ease relationship between citizens and their ward representatively commonly known as Shehas.

The Shirika la Uzazi na Malezi Tanzania (UMATI), Zanzibar Branch, says the situation on the ground is tense hence there is a necessity to restore relations between citizens and sheha’s in the Isles. In doing so, UMATI urges the government of Zanzibar to implement the amended Act of Local government and Regional Administration of 2014, which among other things, stipulates the presence of shehia offices in Zanzibar. The law recognizes the position of ward representatives and it commits in providing them offices and payable assistants.

 “After recognizing some loopholes in these laws, and after assessing antagonistic relations between citizens and sheha’s, we realized the need for community engagement to solve the existing hostility. May I use this opportunity to deliver my sincerely gratitude to the Foundation for Civil Society, which supported this initiative financially.

 “After starting to implement this project, we realized that many citizens were not aware of the laws that govern shehia offices in Zanzibar and others did not know the authority that shehas have in the community. We also found that many shehas had little understanding on the laws that govern their positions,” says Ali Suleiman, an official from Umati.

Suleiman adds that after implementing this project in East A and West B Districts in Unguja, they realized that the laws provide benefits to shehas such as offices and assistants. “This has never been done here and many citizen engaged in this project argue that, once implemented, it will cement good relationship among citizens and their shehas,” he argues.

The sheha for Mkokotoni, Ame Haji Ame, who is among the beneficiaries in this project says, the FCS grants to Umati has facilitated peace and tranquility among citizens in Zanzanibar and that the education programs facilitated by Umati is little compared with the need. He says Umati has done a remarkable job by teaching them immigration laws.

“We know and many Tanzanians know that they have the right to live anywhere they like without breaching the law. Many citizens know that right and move from one place to another without informing the authority.

“Now we are teaching them to search for introduction documents once they decide to migrate to new places. This is the only way of being recognized when they get to new places. It becomes easier to serve them once they provided us with the introductory information,” he says.

The Umati training sessions also provide to participants a room to examine their social and economic responsibilities from shehas in one side and citizens. The Pangawi Sheha, Abdallah Juma Mtumwene from West B District, argues that, the Umati project has contributed a lot to Shehas and it has changed the public perception towards duties and functions of the wards representatives.

 “Previously many people used to keep away from us. After the training, they are now recognizing that a Sheha is also a human being. The only thing we need now, is a proper translation of the 2014 Act number 7 and 8 that provide roles and responsibilities of Shehas in Zanzibar,” he says.

These law provisions are printed in English. Hadia Ali Makame a Mkokotoni resident says, it is difficult for citizens to comprehend them. She says after the three days training from UMATI, now she understands the importance of wananchi to attend and participate in all shehia matters.

“I never had information that we must apply the law in running our day to day activities. I didn’t know that the Sheha position is recognized by the law. Previously I knew it was like a monarch system where the father will bequeath the son. At least now I know that the position is legal and there are laws and regulations that override it,” says Nassor Khamis Nassor a resident of Magogoni Shehia allocated in West B District in Unguja.

Due to the impact of these training sessions Umati is offering has asked the attendants to send their sincere gratitude to FCS for its support to Umati. Sheha Abdalla Juma Mtumwene argues that, FCS through its grant to Umati has contributed directly to human livelihood. He now wants to see the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar to act by building offices for shehas in Zanzibar.

 “I am doing all these works at home. There is one day a woman came and used abusive words in front of my family. I was real embarrassed by such utterances. I felt disappointed and I know this couldn’t happen once the government has provided us with Shehia Offices,” he said.

Sheha Haji Ame added that, FCS has done great to conduct programs support visits and it entails that the Foundation is a very highly reputable organization that real works for human development.



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