Amani Abeid Karume

karumeDr. Amani Abeid Karume, 63, was the President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council from November 2000 to November 2010.

His Excellency is Vice-Chairman of the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi. He was the first Chancellor of the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA), a position which he still holds. He is an honorary fellow of the Institute of Engineers of Tanzania. He rose to the current
leadership position from the ranks, first within the youth movements of his party to constituency representation. He has held a number of executive and political positions in finance, trade, transport and communications.

Karume took over the leadership of Zanzibar when the country was facing many challenges. It was a time when it was burdened by an aide boycott by some Western Countries. At the same time the people were facing a number of problems, including insufficient health services, poor infrastructure, lack of social cohesion and even brain drain.

Karume, having been brought up to care for the people, took up the challenge of seeking solution to the many problems Zanzibar faced. His father, the late Mzee Abeid Karume, stands out among African leaders, as one who dedicated his life and worked to bring change to the people. His history abounds with achievements for his people.

The young Karume metaphorically stepped into the shoes of his father and inherited his devotion to people’s welfare.

Dr. Karume as a leader he was determined to alleviate the suffering of the people of Zanzibar, especially children, women and the aged. One of the major issues in Zanzibar was healthcare. Advances in the healthcare system became a hallmark in his ten years of leadership. HIV/AIDS and
malaria were creating devastation to peoples’ lives. By 2000, Malaria was almost an epidemic in Zanzibar, with an infestation rate of 35
percent.

In order to combat Malaria, Karume sought assistance from helpful donors to launch and anti-malaria campaign, known as KATAA MALARIA. This programme amounted to interventions which included distribution of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets; Indoor Residual Spray which covered 96% of the total households in Unguja and Pemba and utilization of combine drugs ACT. These interventions led to reduction of malaria prevalence from 35% to less than one percent, according to well researched surveys in Zanzibar.

At the same time His Excellency implemented programs to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. This included spreading awareness among the people, fighting stigmatization, introduction of Anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs), blood checking and counseling. These initiatives have succeeded to make Zanzibaris become more aware of the dangers of HIV/AIDS and take more preventive measures. Statistical results indicate that although there has been no breakthrough, the infection rate in Zanzibar has remained at 0.6 percent for years.

The many successes in Karume’s healthcare initiatives are also notable in the prevention of cholera, elephantiasis and children/mothers immunization. The greater achievements under Kurume’s leadership are in the improvement of health services with better medical delivery, good maternal care, availability of drugs in public hospitals and increase in the number of health facilities to an extent that there is an equipped health centre within the next five kilometer radius location. In 2009, He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of science Degree by the Kairuki University, Dar es Salaam in recognition of his contribution to development of health in Zanzibar.

Perhaps his crowning success, however, was the introduction of Zanzibar the medical doctors training scheme run jointly with Cuban assistance. Karume saw the danger of losing medical professionals through brain drain and had the vision to make Zanzibar acquire sufficiency in medical doctors to an acceptable WHO rate.

At the same time, under his leadership, Zanzibar made many other achievements in social and economic developments. His Universal Primary Education policy has seen admission in the first primary classes of 100 percent. He pioneered compulsory secondary education for all. Tertiary education has grown tremendously and Zanzibar now boasts three universities which offer various faculties, including science. Vocational training also received wider attention under his leadership. Karume was also behind the intensive agriculture in Zanzibar which assured food safety net for the people. In recognition to his inspirational success in educational development, he was awarded a PhD honorary degree in Laws by the South Carolina State University in May, 2008.

Karume is an idealist leader who led a simple life, even before his  retirement in 2010.He is well described as both a workaholic and a family man who specially dotes on his children. His love for his children is universal thus his great zeal in the promotion of education. His Excellency is the current African Presidential Lecturer at the African Presidential Archives and Research Center (APARC) at Boston University. He is an avid reader of politics, history, social studies and economics.