AS preparations for the sixth general election, since the introduction of multiparty system in 1992, gathers momentum, uncertainty and fear of the unknown grip incumbent Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of the Zanzibar House of Representatives (MZHRs), as the electorate will soon decide the legislators’ fate based on their performances.
As that is not enough, the MPs and MZHRs are also being evaluated by their leaders in political parties. As they warn that underperforming legislators will not be approved for re-election because citizens have been disheartened, hence, they have lost credibility.
Elected leaders at all levels including local government, councillors and the presidents are being assessed, but both President John Magufuli and his Zanzibar counterpart, Dr Ali Mohamed Shein, have scored well in serving the people.
Under both Dr Magufuli and Shein, the implementation of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), election manifesto (2015-2020), has been successful.
While Dr Shein is retiring after serving his two terms, President Magufuli has proved he deserves another five years in office to serve Tanzanians.
Who worked hard and who slacked off, among the MPs and MZHRs? In answering this question, ‘Sunday News’ will run a series of articles after surveying individual constituencies in Unguja and Pemba Islands, getting views from the respective electorate, leaders and incumbent legislators.
Crossing the causeway connecting Uzi Island to the main Island of Unguja is not only adventurous of its kind, but gives a hint of the huge task the lawmakers and Revolutionary Government faces in taking development to the people, especially those on small inhabited Islands.
Located immediately to the south of the main Island’s Unguja Ukuu ruins, the Uzi Island, which comprises of two Shehias of Uzi and Ng’ambwa, sits as one of the living realities of Zanzibar’s past and contemporary society.
The island, which is six kilometres long, making it the second largest of the smaller Islands, which surround Unguja after Tumbatu in the North, has not participated in tourism development and most of Uzis are fishermen and peasants.
Interestingly, the island can only be accessed via a cause-pasway which is accessible during low tide and it is also known as “Mosses Road”.
When water comes up, the road disappears and in such situation travellers to and from the island might as well use traditional dhows.
The two shehias making the tiny Uzi Island, with the total population of 6,000 people, are apparently the least developed shehias among the 13 shehias that fall within the vast Tunguu Constituency.
Nevertheless, noteworthy efforts have been taken by legislators and the government as they try to lift the living standards of the citizens in Uzi and other parts of the constituency.
Mr Simai Mohamed Said is the incumbent Rep for Tunguu while the MP for the constituency is Mr Khalifa Salum Suleiman. The duo have been working at their best to serve their electorate along with implementing the manifesto.
“I may say Tunguu is among the largest constituencies in Unguja and Pemba in terms of population. I wouldn’t say we’re leading, but our population keeps growing steadily,” says Tunguu Representative, Simai Mohamed Said, who admits it is a herculean task to bring development to the people.
It takes sweat, determination and hard work to represent a constituency effectively and voters’ expectations, claims Mr Said, the new Deputy Minister for Education and Vocational Training.
“It takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, learning, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing if you are truly interested in improving your voters’ living standards,” the garrulous politician, Mr Said says.
The main income generating activities in Tunguu include subsistence farming, petty trade and fishing, but challenges in the constituency include a shortage of water, a long distance to dispensary, a shortage of teachers and the youth and women’s unemployment burden.
“I think if you compare the Uzi Island at the time we were voted into office and now, there are big changes,” Simai says mentioning that construction of the causeway as among the measures taken to unlock the Island’s potential.
“We invested over 13m/-in the improvement of a road from Ng’ambwa to where water normally comes up, but we still need to repair it after two or three years,” he says.
But the permanent solution is the envisaged construction of a bridge pledged by President Shein. “We thank the President he has visited the area twice.
The minister responsible has also visited the area with a view to putting in place a proper and permanent infrastructure that would connect the island and Unguja Ukuu,” he added.
The two lawmakers worked in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training for the construction of a modern primary school in the Ng’ambwa Shehia.
It is the only nursery and primary school found in the area. The school, which was opened in February last year, still lacks desks, exercise books and teachers lack working tools, according to interim teacher Mfaume Omar Hija, but plans are underway to address the challenges.
With congestion a big challenge among academics across Zanzibar, there have been notable efforts to reduce overcrowding in primary and secondary in the constituency.
Thanks to the legislators and the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training a block containing eight classrooms has been built at Kibele with a view to reducing students’ congestion.
Mr Simai says they have also been supporting Dunga-Kiembeni schools, along with Madrassa (Koran schools), of Tunguu, Kibele, Dunga, Ubago, and Mwera-Ponge, providing reading materials such as the Qur’an and sometimes monthly stipends to teachers.
He said, in collaboration with the MP, water problems had been reduced and people in many shehias got water from boreholes or wells with a big water project underway to solve water scarcity in all residential areas.
“Water scarcity was the main burning issue across the constituency, but in most areas we have been able to address it.
We spent about 150m/-on water pipes that were used to supply water to households,” says Mr Simai.“Since we have a problem of water salinity in most areas of the constituency, we were prompted in 2016 to connect water from Machui to Pongwe-Tunguu, a distance of about six kilometres,” adds the lawmaker.
Uzi Island, particularly Ng’ambwa Shehia, however, remains an area with extremely high water stress, but with a number of measurers currently being devised, including drilling of water wells, Simai is adamant water services can be sustainably delivered to the area.
Rehabilitation, construction and maintenance of feeder roads remain a big challenge, concedes Mr Simai.
“This is a key area that we want to accomplish before we go to the next election. We’re faced with two challenges regarding feeder roads. We have so many feeder roads and there is no budget at the moment.
Uzi-Ngambwa, Unguja-Ukuu, Kikungwi, Bungi, Kibele, Tunguu and Pongwe are feeder roads, which have been earmarked for improvement so that people particularly women attending maternity clinic and traders taking their farm from the market can easily use the roads.“Most of the feeder roads are not in a good condition, but we’ll do our best to improve these roads,” pledges Simai.
The government is working on major roads, namely Koani-Jumbe and Jendele-Cheju roads, which are set to open up access to larger settlements, towns and markets that used to be cut off.
“The government has invested a lot of money in the construction of these major roads and they will have massive benefits to citizens,” insists the legislator.
Like many parts of Zanzibar, there are few health centres in Tunguu, which provide basic health services to citizens, who have to travel a considerable distance to major hospitals located in the town.
“The government plans to build a referral hospital at Tunguu, which will guarantee best health services to citizens and provide employment to our people,” suggests Mr Simai.
“We have a big challenge on Uzi Island due to its geographical location, but we have already voiced our concern regarding lack of a good health facility on the island and appealed to the government to consider Uzi’s case,” he adds.
Rural electrification is an integral component of poverty alleviation and rural growth of a nation.
While the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar has the ambitious target of providing electricity to all villages all rural households, many rural areas in Tunguu Constituency are yet to be electrified.
Mr Simai says the electrification process is quite expensive and only the government through ZECO can implement such projects.
“Some parts of Kikungwi, Bungi, Binguni and Dunga Kinyongo are yet to be supplied with electricity,” reveals the Tunguu Rep, while appealing to the government to speed up the rural electrification rate.
Youth and women empowerment
In efforts to economically empower women and the youth in Tunguu Constituency, Mr Simai says they (him and MP), came up with a plan to register all women and youth groups so that they can be supported as a group and not individuals.
“The economic empowerment of women and young people remains one of our major activities in the constituency as we strive for reducing the unemployment burden and idleness, which lead to committing crime,” the Educational and Vocational Training deputy minister says.
He said the exercise started last year and they had given between 300,000/-and 1m/-, a grant cash money, to at least 50 groups to use it as capital to run some businesses like manufacturing locally washing detergent (soap) and also they had been given sewing machines. “In our constituency development plan, the youth and women are given a priority.
In addition to what we gave them for starting a business, we have also talked to NMB Bank to support them. They were required to register as an entrepreneurs group before the bank support them,” Mr Simai said.
What do people say?
Ms Salma Omary Said, Tunguu Constituency Secretary, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), commends the constituency’s lawmakers for good work so far of trying to overcome most of the challenges facing the area, particularly a poor road network, a shortage of classrooms and lack of employment among women and the youth.
There has been admirable development in solving the problems mainly the construction of more blocks for classrooms at Kibele, Dunga and Kikungwi schools to accommodate more students, she says.
“It is good that we are able now to accommodate all our children in schools without congestion,” she says as she also commends President Ali Mohamed Shein for fulfilling the promise he made during the general election to improve Pongwe Road.
Traders, farmers, students and pregnant mothers are certainly delighted with the ongoing road construction as it will end current transport problems.
Ms Omary says the main challenge which is being addressed gradually is lack of support to empower women and the youth. “They have been registering in groups as directed by their leaders, but the support remains limited.”
“We ask Dr Shein and other leaders to economically empower the youth and women in villages because resources are better used in rural areas than in urban,” she says, adding that most of the women and youth hesitate to apply for loans because of big interests and other conditions attached to them.