‘My disability will not deter me from politics’

29Apr 2021
By Guardian Reporter
Zanzibar
The Guardian
‘My disability will not deter me from politics’

A 23-year-old Jamila Borafya Hamza is a girl with visual impairment. She is one of the young women in Zanzibar who vied for Mwanakwerekwe constituency’s representative in the 2020 general election.

Despite her disability, disappointments, and other obstacles she faced, Jamila did not give up running for the seat. During the race, Jamila was the only woman and with visual impairment out of 12 CCM cadres who were competing for the post.

At first, the public had two opinions—there were those who supported her move, asking her to go for Special Seats, and those who disappointed her due to her disability

“I refused to run for Special Seats. I told them that even if I lose the primaries, I will run for the representative post because my ability is to serve the constituency and not special seats,” she says.

Her dream was to be the leader of the constituency and not otherwise. “There are many women who fear to go and vie for parliamentary seats and in turn, they remain to vie for Special Seats and people with disabilities vie through their window. But, I didn’t want that,” confident Jamila says.

“My journey as a constituency representative in Mwanakwerekwe ended in party primaries where my dreams shattered as I never got even a single vote,” she recounts, attesting that in that process she learned a number of issues including confidence because she has the ability to do what she wanted to do.

“I’m not given up, as one day my importance will be seen by voters and all people across Mwanakwerekwe,” she stresses.

She however cited some of the reasons that made her unelected as her disability and lack of financial muscles as she had nothing to provide for party members who have the right to vote for them at primaries.

“During primaries, I asked the voters that they should vote for me. I was ready to serve them in the House of Representatives my disability isn’t a challenge.”

She however cited lack of financial muscles as a barrier for women to run for leadership positions because elections are costly, so many low-income women are unable to run for leadership positions despite the fact that women can.

Jamila started her campaign for leadership positions from primary school where she served as Minister of Information at Kisiwandui School Student Government and in 2016 he participated in the Youth Parliament and Chairman of the Mwanakwerekwe Shehia youth council.

She said that for women to hold more leadership positions, the community should trust women, especially those with disabilities, to be competent and make a significant contribution because they can volunteer, fight and bring success.

She also called on the government to amend laws that will provide opportunities for women, especially in the states, political parties to put in place special provisions that provide opportunities for women and people with disabilities.

For example, she said in the Youth Council Act No. 16 of 2013 it makes it clear that in any election if there is going to be a man with a disability or a woman is given priority.

She urged women leaders to help their fellow women because when they do wrong the public loses trust in them, but when they do well they will show them the best way to reach out to leadership positions.

Jamila completed her Form Four last year at Haile Salasi Secondary School in Unguja but failed to continue with further studies due to health problems.

The young lady said that when she receives treatment and his health improves, she will continue his studies where his goal is to study management and leadership education to fulfill his dreams.

Reports have it that out of the 50 representatives of the Zanzibar Constituencies in the House of Representatives, there is no representative from the group of persons with disabilities (PWDs) from the constituency despite their efforts to running for the seats in the last general election.

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