Four little-known independent candidates,Venuste Bizirema, Gilbert Mwenedata, Léonille Mutuyimana and Clovis Ganza, will launch their campaigns tomorrow to compete for seats in the category of 53 openly contested seats in the parliamentary elections taking place on September 16.
In order to be among the country’s next Members of Parliament (MPs), they will need a minimum of 5 per cent of all the total votes from nearly six million expected to vote by universal suffrage.
Each of the four candidates has a special reason why they took the trouble to run, even if no independent candidate has ever won the elections since 2003 when the current Rwandan constitution was promulgated.
He said he would like to contribute to the country’s governance by cooperating with other leaders to give the best services to the country.
The 30-year-old, a recent graduate of civil aviation studies in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, was also a contestant in mayoral elections for Rubavu District in 2011.
He said that he has put aside at least Rwf4,000,000 to be spent in his campaign buying advertising space in the media, communicating with supporters by telephone, and transporting himself to different campaign locations.
“I have been preparing to run as an independent MP for quite some time. I am sure I will go through because what I have achieved so far is promising,” he said in a telephone interview early this week.
The candidate is a resident of Muhanga District in the Southern Province even if he has been living in Rubavu District in order to pursue his studies across the border in Goma.
She is a 28-year-old mother of one child and a lawyer by profession. The resident of Gisozi in Kigali City’s Gasabo District said that she would like to test how far she can go with her passion for leadership.
Mutuyimana says that what mostly breaks her heart is poverty and lack of careers among many Rwandans, especially young people. It is the urge to give her contribution towards addressing these issues which led to her decision of running as an MP, she told The New Times this week.
“It really hurts me when I see people like hawkers, sex workers, orphans, and other vulnerable groups without a defined career,” she said. “If God helps me to emerge successful in these elections I will make sure that more laws to protect these vulnerable groups are enacted.”
Being a singer of gospel music, the candidate would also like to help musicians and other artists protect their art works through anti-piracy laws.
Kigali-based businessman Clovis Ganza says that he felt the need to help people in rural areas who kept calling on their MPs to reach out to them and listen to their problems. If elected, the 32-year-old single dad of one will be the voice for all the people in the country who feel that MPs are not listening to them, he revealed.
“They complain that they never get to see their MPs”, the candidate said, also highlighting that many people in rural areas told him that they needed more consultations with MPs on issues like expropriation and land consolidation.
His main political agenda is essentially the improvement of communication between people and parliament, he admitted.
“It’s difficult to win these elections as an independent candidate but I will make it. I am hopeful I will be an MP,” he said.
He is passionate about a governance style that promotes reconciliation, transparency, and pro-Rwanda values.
The 39-year old candidate is a resident of Kimironko in Kigali’s Gasabo District and a father of three.
Though he has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Sciences and is pursuing a Master’s in Development Studies, Mwenedata has acquired extensive experience working in land use management projects with international and local organisations in Rwanda and abroad.
“I am not running because I need a job, it’s not that I need money because I actually make more money with my job than being an MP,” he said in an interview yesterday.
“I have strong conviction that I can make a difference if Rwandans give me an opportunity to serve them”.
How MPs for the Chamber of Deputies are elected
The Chamber of Deputies is composed of 80 members but 27 slots are reserved for special interest groups, namely, women (24 seats), the youth (2) and people living with disabilities (1).
The remainder of the seats, 53 MPs, is openly contested for by independent candidates and political parties and are elected through universal suffrage. One seat equals to a minimum of 5 per cent of all the total votes casted in the universal suffrage.
Here is how the 27 MPs representing special interest groups are elected through their Electoral Colleges:
The Electoral College that elects women members of parliament is composed of more than 300,000 people, including members of district and sector councils, members of committees of the national council of women from the national level, provincial level, district level, sector level, cell level and Umudugudu (village) level.
On the election day, the voters assemble somewhere in their districts across the country and elect women in the name of all the women population of Rwanda.
Youth representatives are elected through youth structures right from the grassroots up to the National Youth Council. The youth electoral college is composed of 264 voters who include eight representatives of Institutions of Higher Learning, eight from high schools, eight from the national executive committee of the National Youth Council and 240 representing the youth committees from district and sector levels across the country.
One MP representing the disabled is elected through the National Council of Persons with Disabilities (NCPD). The electoral college is composed of 252 voters from Councils of Persons with Disabilities at the district and national levels.