CHADEMA Union presidential candidate, Dr Wilbrod Slaa (center) speaks to Daily News journalists on his party�s political agenda in Dar es Salaam on Thursday
|CHADEMA Union presidential candidate, Dr Willbrod Slaa, has defended his record as a Roman Catholic priest, saying he was not expelled. He said he requested to quit the clergy and concentrate in politics to fight poverty. |
�The Vatican approved my request and I became a lay. I was not exorcised (expelled) as some of my political rivals may want people to believe," he said.
�I once co-ordinated multi-religious activities and made many friends from various religious denominations. I would like to serve the nation with diligence to stop misuse of available resources that are currently benefiting a few individuals,� Dr Slaa explained.
In an exclusive interview with the 'Daily News', Dr Slaa, claimed that "slow development pace�� in the country was due to lack of a clear national vision.
Dr Slaa urged the government to empower the people instead of over-dependency on foreign financial sources and importation of goods that could be made locally. Dr Slaa said research has shown that there was no country that has developed without serious investment in agriculture.
�Peasantry will get this country nowhere. Tanzania needs well planned agro-based industries under coherent strategies to ensure good returns,� he observed.
Clarifying on his desire to lead the people out of poverty, the presidential candidate said deprivation experienced in the country should not be there because the answer was creative minds and commitment.
He recalled the country�s focus on development under Mwalimu Julius Nyerere that was based on the people, land, good policies and leadership. He, however, blamed CCM and its predecessor, Tanu, for inability to fight poverty effectively for the last 50 years.
Dr Slaa said the Dar es Salaam Port and the country's mineral wealth could be the launching pad towards the nation's prosperity.
He, however, noted that services at the Dar es Salaam Port were poor and the government has demonstrably failed to ease congestion at the facility and the problem was also aggravated by poor railway network.
Chadema's presidential hopeful said in early 1980s Tanzania made tremendous strides towards manufacturing of cars at Nyumbu military workshop in Kibaha.
�I was delighted to meet my fellow countrymen in Ireland in 1981, who were sent by the government for training on manufacture of engines for home made trucks.
�The current Kigoma Regional Commissioner, Colonel (retired) Joseph Simbakalia, was one of the students. The project, which was a brilliant idea, was abandoned for no apparent reasons,� he lamented.
Dr Slaa said 50 years ago Japan was a poor country, but Tanzania now imports from there vehicles and machinery.
He criticised President Jakaya Kikwete for maintaining a huge cabinet. He said the United States with a population of over 300 million has only 14 ministers, while Britain has 20.
"Tanzania, with a population of 40 million has 40 ministers. As a result, three quarters of the country�s budget (11 trillion/-) is spent on running the government operations, instead of making serious investment in education, health, agriculture and other development programmes,� Dr Slaa explained.
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