ZANZIBAR's senior citizens have a bright future should CCM presidential candidate Dr Hussein Mwinyi emerge victorious in the upcoming 2020 General Election.
Besides his pledge to maintain the seventh-phase introduced old age pension scheme, Dr Mwinyi promised upgrading the scheme by either raising the amount payable or reducing the age criteria if elected in the October 28th polls.
"It will all depend on our performance of the economy...we may increase the monthly pension from the current 20,000/- or reduce the age from 70 to even 60 years," Dr Mwinyi said as he fielded questions from traders and porters at Mkokotoni market on Monday, while on his campaign style to meet identified groups of potential voters.
A trader at the market, Mr Abdi Shehe Othmani, assured Dr Mwinyi of victory in the coming elections but expressed concern if he will sustain the "valuable support, which President (Ali Mohamed) Shein had introduced for our elders."
Responding, Dr Mwinyi said: "We are not coming to ruin the good foundations already in place; we envisage developing and improving all the good things."
President Shein has during his tenure introduced the 20,000/- monthly old age pension for all senior citizens above 70 years.
The Indian Ocean's semiautonomous archipelago has already legalised the universal pension scheme through the passage of the Elderly Affairs Bill in March this year.
And, President Shein has since last June signed the bill into law. According to Labour, Empowerment, Elderly, Women and Children Minister Maudline Cyrus Castico, there were 28,516 elders benefiting from the government funded scheme as of March 2020.
On his second day of physically meeting potential voters in Unguja Dr Mwinyi said plans are underway to transform North 'A' district's Fungurefu coastal village into a busy sardine business hub, with a huge sardine drying factory, landingpier and international market.
He told the sardine dealers at the village in Tumbatu constituency that if elected, he will effectively supervise the plans' execution.
He listened to their challenges and asked for votes to address what he described as "problems with readily available solutions."
At Kinyasini market, Dr Mwinyi pledged to construct an imposing structure for the food business with all the essential amenities, including toilets, water and power supply.
The aspirant further visited traders at Kinyasini main market and listened to their concerns, top on the list being the 1,500/- they pay daily as market duty- translating into 547,500/- annually.
"We have many problems here and it seems we have nobody to complain to...I'm emotionally touched by your presence here today," Mekidida Masato Mtema said, pleading with the "our president in waiting for oath" to intervene in the costs of doing business at the market and availability of credit facilities for entrepreneurs.
Dr Mwinyi assured the traders that arrangements are afoot to have all small-scale entrepreneurs paying 30,000/- annually and getting identity cards that will allow them to freely conduct their businesses.
He however challenged them to come together and form strong associations to facilitate their access to credit facilities and other business facilitation.
"Come together and form groups because reaching to you as individuals may be difficult," counselled Dr Mwinyi.
At Muyuni Matemwe landing-pier, Dr Mwinyi reiterated his pledge to ensure justice reigns in the communities, which have been deprived of their land.
"We need investors but not at the expense of our citizens... all investments should first benefit the hosting communities," he told fishermen at the wharf.