Serengeti: It’s a ‘Catherine Ruge test’ in male-dominated politics

Saturday October 17 2020

 

By Anthony Mayunga and Peter Saramba

Serengeti. The Serengeti constituency will be among Mara’s most contested seats for both CCM and Chadema. It is virtually a two-horse race pitting Catherine Ruge of Chadema against Dr Amsabi Mrimi of the ruling CCM.

Ms Ruge - whose nickname is ‘Omusubhati’ roughly meaning ‘the first woman contestant’ - has distinguished herself as capable owing to her record as a special seats MP in a constituency that is dominated by males.

On the flip side, Dr Mrimi will be riding on his party’s development agenda. However, many of the development projects have not been completed.

Dr Mrimi will be harbouring hopes that people will elect him in order to complete development projects that are close to completion.

Since 1975, CCM has been at the helm - with the exception of the 2015 elections when Chadema’s Marwa Ryoba won the seat.

That notwithstanding, Mr Ryoba shifted to the ruling CCM in 2018 and the party nominated him to vie for the same position which he won. During this party hopping, Chadema lost seven councillors to CCM.

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In the ongoing campaigns, the ruling party and the opposition especially Chadema have positioned themselves by placing contestants in every ward and constituency.

The political opposition’s agenda

While launching her campaigns recently, Mrs Ruge mentioned 14 priority areas to be implemented if she is elected. Among them are, availability of safe and clean water for Mugumu town in the Serengeti District headquarters, construction of Manchira Dam that has stalled for years, poor roads linking Arusha and Mara through Serengeti National Park (Senapa).

Besides easing the transport problems between the two regions, the said road could prop up Serengeti’s economy.

Ms Ruge, who is an economist, says the proposed road together with Nata–Mugumu road will be a boon for the tourism sector, which will make it easy for people to visit Butiama where the father of the nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was buried.

She says that she will defuse the acrimonious existence between national park authorities and people living around the park. Human settlements around the park have sparked deadly confrontation with the wildlife and authorities protecting the latter.

She opines that tourist-related activities would benefit the Serengeti youth. The opposition also says it will look for markets for crops such as sunflower, tobacco and cotton lift the standard of lives of farmers in the constituency. Livestock is also among the sectors that need special attention, promising to come up with plans to boost meat, skins and milk production and adding value to the goods.

Catherine laments the torching of 135 family houses in 2001 in Nyamuma - and is apt to use it to raise her political ante.

“Even after the Human Rights Commission and Good Governance raised the issue in 2004, none of these people had their land returned to them or even compensated,” said Ms Ruge.

The CCM agenda

For his part, CCM’s Dr Mrimi says that despite the party having partly implemented its manifesto, he will be in the forefront putting pressure on the government to implement the remaining part of the manifesto if elected,. “The construction of roads to bitumen standards and a small airport are my priorities,” says Dr Mrimi.

The candidate on a CCM ticket also says that health and education will be his priorities if elected. “I will use my networking skills in and out of the country to prop up health and education sectors in Serengeti,” he says.

To achieve these goals, he says he will co-operate with stakeholders irrespective of their ideological, tribal and/or religious affiliations for the benefit of the people of Serengeti.