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SA Opposition Figure Maimane to Grace 2023 Maalim Seif Foundation Conference in Zanzibar

This year’s conference will discuss the state of politics locally and globally, touching on current trends, including populism, coup d'états and democratic backsliding.

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Dar es Salaam. Mmusi Maimane, the leader of South Africa’s opposition party, Build One South Africa, and one of the country’s leading opposition figures, is expected to grace the 2023 Maalim Seif Foundation conference in Zanzibar, organised to honour the life of the late Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, a democracy icon who died on February 17, 2021.

Organised jointly with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, a German foundation for liberal politics, the conference is slated for November 25 and November 26, 2023, with hundreds of democracy stakeholders expected to flock to the semi-autonomous archipelago for the occasion.

Launched on November 5, 2021, the Maalim Seif Foundation honours the life of the reformist politician by promoting democracy and its ideals. The annual conference is part of the Foundation’s programmes to contribute to reconciliation, mutual respect, conflict resolution, peaceful co-existence, harmony and cooperation among people.

READ MORE: Foundation in Honour of Maalim Seif Launched in Zanzibar

Weekend’s conference is the third to be organised by the Foundation, with the previous conferences occurring in 2021 and 2022. The previous conferences covered issues related to the reconciliation process and the state of education in Tanzania. This year’s conference will discuss the state of politics locally and globally.

In a statement released Friday, the organisers said that conference participants will delve deeper into discussions of local and global political trends, leadership and governance, touching on key issues, including phenomena like democratic backsliding, the rise of populism, and politics in the digital age.

“The issues will be discussed through presentation of keynote speeches as well as panel discussions, which will involve seasoned politicians, religious leaders, leaders from civil society, intellectuals, journalists, diplomats, and young politicians,” Ismail Jussa, the Foundation’s acting CEO, said in a statement.

“About 180 participants are expected to participate in the conference,” Jussa, a leading opposition figure in Tanzania, explained. “Our conferences have the reputation of serving as a free and independent forum for critical and respectful debate, aimed at contributing to positive changes in Tanzania.” 

Seif Sharif Hamad, who is affectionately referred to as Maalim Seif by both his friends and foes, died on February 17, 2021, after contracting coronavirus. He was 77. 

Maalim Seif died when serving as First Vice President of the Government of National Unity in the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar. He was also serving as the national chairperson of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party.

READ MORE: Remembering Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad

His successor, Othman Masoud Othman, is expected to be the guest of honour at the weekend’s conference, with the Zanzibar Second Vice President, Hemed Suleiman Abdulla, expected to speak during the conference’s inauguration. 

The conference will occur at the Golden Tulip Hotel in Zanzibar, close to the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport.

“We expect that this year’s conference will continue its reputation of providing an opportunity for people to engage in a meaningful debate and thus contribute to our development efforts as a nation,” Mr Jussa hoped. 

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