By Peter Saramba
The Citizen Correspondent
Karatu. Dr Willibrod Slaa is still “the right and capable” candidate to vie for the presidency on Chadema’s ticket in the 2015 General Election, the party’s chairman, Mr Freeman Mbowe, said yesterday Mr Mbowe made the remarks at a public rally in Karatu Town.
It is the first time that Mr Mbowe has publicly endorsed Dr Slaa for 2015.
Dr Slaa unsuccessfully vied for the top seat in 2010.
He garnered 26 per cent of the vote against the 61 per cent won by CCM’s Jakaya Kikwete.
Chadema deputy secretary-general Zitto Kabwe, who is also the Kigoma North MP, said in March he intended to vie for the Union presidency in the 2015 elections.
Mr Kabwe said the country needed major transformation, which current politicians had failed to push for, and were instead dwelling on “cosmetic” changes.
Mr Mbowe said yesterday: “If the almighty God gives him good health until 2015, Chadema will offer him another opportunity to bear our flag in the presidential election.
“I want all those planning to take advantage of the 2015 presidential contest to destabilise our party to be aware of this fact.”
Mr Mbowe said for a long time there had been deliberate attempts to create enmity between him and Dr Slaa, adding that the machinations would fail.
He added that he had no intention of running for president in 2015.
Instead, he said, he would focus on building the party at the grassroots to ensure of winning the elections.
Mr Mbowe also announced that the doors will be open in January next year for all Chadema members aspiring for the presidency during the 2015 general elections to make public their ambitions.
Along presidential aspirants, Mr Mbowe also said even those harbouring ambitions for parliamentary seats, councillorship and local government positions next year should declare their intention from January.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Citizen on Sunday, Mr Mbowe said all those aspiring for elective posts will be allowed to do so after a meeting of the Central Committee (CC) of the party scheduled for January next year.
The CC meeting, according to him will set official procedures and election criteria for aspirants
He said the rationale behind the plan was not only to give voters opportunity to know, understand aspirant but also to ideologically prepare for the battle ahead.
During the 2015 elections, he said, his party will not wait to pick candidate who lost opportunities from other parties and defected to Chadema including those from CCM, saying the experience has shown them that most of them were mercenaries.
On the other hand, he said his party will exercise extra care in vetting and picking its presidential candidate because it was a sensitive position not to be approached for testing.
Concerning internal wrangles pitting the party that has seen a wave of defection of its cadres to CCM, Mbowe said: “It was a sign of life and growth of our party as we expand and expand..,” he said.