DAR ES SALAAM, March 14 (AFP) - Former Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere on Tuesday accused the government of President Ali Hassan Mwinyi of corruption and violating the constitution and urged Tanzanians to vote differently in the next elections.
Addressing a gathering of local and foreign journalists at the Kilimanjaro International Hotel here, Nyerere also accused Mwinyi's administration of condoning religious differences and tribalism.
"This would not only lead to collapse of the now-sensitive 30-year-old union between the twin-islands of Zanzibar and Pemba and Tanzania mainland, but would also plunge the country into chaos," Nyerere warned and urged Tanzanians to ensure that they voted for "a president able to correct the situation and put the country on the right track."
Nyerere, who ruled Tanzania for 24 years after independence from British colonial rule in 1961, described Tanzania as a country "stinking with corruption."
"Corruption in Tanzania has no bounds. Every country I visit they talk about corruption in Tanzania. Tanzania is stinking with corruption," Nyerere told journalists gathered at the Tanzania Press Club.
Referring to a tax fraud in the country that recently led to aid suspension by donor countries and organisations, Nyerere declared: "This was one quality of corruption."
"Any government that works for the wealthy does not collect tax, it chooses to harass small-time dealers," Nyerere charged.
Nyerere, affectionately referred to as "Mwalimu (teacher) and Father of the Nation" by Tanzanians, said he was speaking of qualities required of a future president to avoid plunging the country into total collapse.
Comparing Tanzania to "a house that has just been completed," Nyerere said "the country has been hit by a tremor, developing cracks which must be filled," and said the cracks were "the political union between Zanzibar and the mainland, corruption, religious tensions, tribalism, the constitutional crisis and lack of the rule of law."
In an apparent reference to President Mwinyi himself, Nyerere told the journalists that Tanzanians needed a leader who will defend and promote the national constitution.
"It can't be a person that gets advice from his wife, and tomorrow we see some decision has been made. You can't have such a guy. You won't know what his wife will advise him," Nyerere said amid applause from more than 100 journalists attending the gathering.
Tanzania goes to the polls next October in the first multi-party presidential and parliamentary elections since the country attained independence 34 years ago.