Arusha. Presidential hopeful on CCM ticket Edward Lowassa says he expects firm backing of President Jakaya Kikwete in his Ikulu bid.
He told a crowd here yesterday at the start of his campaign to seek CCM’s nomination that a firm support from the incumbent can make smooth his bid for the highest office in the country.
Mr Lowassa, appearing more vibrant and joyful than in the recent past, said he teamed up with President Kikwete in 1995 when both of them sought CCM’s nomination for the presidential race for the first time.
“We agreed that whoever wins the race should support the other. In 2005, I supported Kikwete for presidency and was the chairman of the campaign team,” he said.
The Monduli legislator, who served as the prime minister -- before resigning in 2008 over the Richmond scandal -- under Kikwete after the latter won presidency in 2005, said he deliberately declined to contest the presidency in 2010 because of earlier agreement to support the one at the helm of power.
“Given this, it is now my turn to contest for presidency,” he said to cheers and ululations from supporters at the Sheikh Amri Abeid Stadium.
The remarks by Mr Lowassa, one the strong contenders for CCM’s nomination for presidency during the October General Election, have come at the time of increasing speculation over his relations with the president.
During his meeting with the editors in Dodoma early this week, the Monduli legislator reiterated that his relations with the Head of State were cordial much as they have been in the past.
The two have been members of the the ruling party for nearly 40 years and unsuccessfully sought nomination when they jointly picked form for endorsement in the presidential race on CCM ticket in 1995.
Instead, the then cabinet minister Benjamin Mkapa was nominated as the CCM candidate for that year’s polls. However, this was after two rounds of vote casting, whereby in the first Mr Kikwete was ahead of the other two -- Mr Mkapa and Cleopa Msuya. Mr Msuya, who scored the least votes was taken out. In the second round of voting, Mr Mkapa emerged victorious following an intensive campaining conducted by the Founder of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
During the 1995 nomination which did not favour the two, Mr Lowassa was visibly was on Kikwete side, mobilising every support for him. Both of them were young ministers in the second phase government.
More than a dozen CCM’s stalwarts, including serving and former ministers, a former prime minister and other high profile politicians, are seeking the party’s nomination for presidency.
Their names will have to be veted by several CCM sessions, including the all-powerful Central Committee and National Executive Committee (NEC), both of which are chaired by Mr Kikwete as the party chairman.
Once shortlisted, the names will have to be forwarded to the Party Conference where the main criteria to pick the successful candidate will be through voting.
Although the Party Chairman still holds considerable influence on the decisions on the presidential hopefuls to succeed him, it is the all party conference which will vote for the nominee to face presidential aspirants from other political parties.
Mr Lowassa admitted that his journey to the State House was still long and pleaded for the ruling party to nominate him first before facing the opposition candidates.
He said his track record in the public service and association with Kikwete makes him an eligible candidate for the presidency on CCM’s ticket.
“Once picked to lead the nation, my agenda will be to build a strong economy both for the rural and urban dwellers and to promote team work,” he said in his address lasting roughly one hour. He added that his desired government would formulate appropriate policies that will address the worsening youth unemployment.
and emerging threats to national cohesion and unity.
The former PM and long serving cabinet minister openly admitted that he was increasinlgy concerned by rising ethnic and religious tensions in the country, saying such trends were not good for democracy.
“We will do away with politics of conflicts among politicians, political parties and different religious groups,” he pointed out.
Other priority areas will be investment in education and to formulate politicies which would ensure Tanzanians benefited from the recently-discovered huge natural gas reserves.
“My government would also do away with the traffic jams in Dar within six months,” he said.
However, the non-nonsense politician stressed that he would not tolerate non-performing and corrupt officials and would instead encourage team work “to make Tanzania a land of milk and honey”.
The towering politician, however, did not mention anything on the Richmond candal which forced him out of government in February 2008 after serving as PM for only slightly over two years.