One-term president

Thursday June 4 2015

Transport Minister Samuel Sitta addresses

Transport Minister Samuel Sitta addresses Tabora residents yesterday when he launched his bid for nomination as CCM's candidate for the Union Presidency. PHOTO AIDAN MHANDO 

By Henry Mwangonde

Tabora. Transport minister Samuel Sitta yesterday asked for support to become Tanzania’s next president, promising to rule for only five years – a period he termed as critical for the country’s transition through turbulent times.

Announcing his bid for the ruling party’s ticket for the October General Election, Mr Sitta said his desire was to lead the country back on the right track following socio-economic tensions that currently threaten its stability.

The minister said he was of the calibre of leaders required to tackle the serious challenges facing the country in the next few years owing to his extensive experience in government and politics spanning over 40 years.

Mr Sitta, who was accompanied at the function by his wife and former Cabinet minister Margaret Sitta, listed the threats as the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, Political and religious intolerance among Tanzanians, the growing gap between the rich and the poor and youth unemployment.

“I want to lead this country during this difficult time because I see myself as qualified to suit the profile of the type of president needed to rescue the country from these threats,” said the former speaker of the National Assembly.

He said his public service record speaks, having served in all the four administrations starting with Mwalimu Nyerere’s government.

Mr Sitta told an estimated 2,000 people who thronged Itetemia grounds, the homestead of Chief Fundikira – the head of the Wanyanyembe clan in Tabora region – that he had what it takes to bag CCM’S ticket for the presidency.

“In my opinion, I see the next five years as the most challenging period in history whereby we are witnessing crime increasing day by day therefore an experienced leader would save this country”, he said.

His wife, Margaret, said she backed his bid because he has demonstrated humility and courage over the years as a public servant.

“My husband has been a committed public servant, a good family leader and has shown integrity. As a political family, we remain down to earth and did not use our privilege to enrich ourselves,” said Ms Sitta.

Mr Sitta listed six priorities that he would put into practice if given the chance by CCM, saying he would ensure he strengthens the Tanganyika and Zanzibar Union, continue with the constitution making process and fighting grand graft, among others.

Other priorities are strengthening the country’s economy by giving room to the private sector to increase production and creating an environment that would allow investments.

The ceremony was attended by various leaders from the ruling party and thousands of CCM supporters from his Urambo East Constituency.

He joins a strong list of more than a dozen CCM cadres who have already announced their bids for the top post. They include Vice President Dr Mohammed Gharib Bilal.

Others include former prime ministers Edward Lowassa and Frederick Sumaye, Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives Stephen Wasira and Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu. Deputy Minister for Finance Mwigulu Nchemba, East African legislative Assembly member Makongoro Nyerere and diplomat Ali Karume.

The constitution making process

According to Mr Sitta, the process was fair and transparent and that if elected he would ensure the it continued until the country gets a new mother law. He said he believes that there are no winners and losers, saying although there is no consensus on the current process, the Opposition should accept the fact that there can be no constitution that is acceptable to all people.

He said a constitution is a document that changes with time according to the needs of the people.

Fighting corruption

Mr Sitta said grand corruption had affected the country’s economy to a large extent, saying the trend is now the same in both rural and urban areas.

He said to overcome the challenge, he would establish laws that distinguish between leadership and business, saying a person must choose between the two.

He said in all the years he had been a leader he had noted that most public leaders, mostly politicians, use the opportunity to enrich themselves, saying the malpractice had had great impact on the country’s economy.

Mr Sitta, who was the chairman of the Constituent Assembly, said he would ensure that ethics in public service were strictly adhered to.

The minister said he would pick nomination forms on Friday in Dodoma.

Mr Sitta is a well known name in the country’s politics. He dominated headlines when he was chairman of the Constituent Assembly. The opposition has accused him of leading the CCM-dominated assembly in attempting to impose an unpopular constitution on Tanzanians.