PRESIDENT Mnangagwa yesterday joined the world in mourning the passing on of Tanzanian President John Magufuli (61), a strident critic of the illegal economic sanctions imposed by some Western nations on Zimbabwe.
Tanzanian Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced the death of President Magufuli on Wednesday, saying the country’s leader had died of a heart ailment that had plagued him for a decade.
The Republic of Tanzania declared 14 days of mourning for its leader who rose from humble beginnings in the rural areas to become the country’s first citizen.
In a statement on Twitter, the President said, “My deepest condolences to the family of His Excellency President John Magufuli and the people of Tanzania. Africa mourns with you. May his soul rest in peace.”
Government spokesperson and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said the death of President Magufuli will be felt across the continent.
“President Magufuli was instrumental in the setting aside of 25 October as a Sadc Anti-Sanctions Day. He was a friend of Zimbabwe who never wavered from his resolute stance to oppose the illegal sanctions against this country. His departure will be felt in the region,” said Mr Mangwana
SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Tax said SADC was “very saddened by the passing on of President Magufuli”.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa conveyed his country’s condolences to Tanzania saying: “I spoke to Her Excellency, Vice-President Hassan, this morning and conveyed the condolences of the people of South Africa to the government and the people of Tanzania, our sister country, on their loss. As we all know, Tanzania is a country that stood with us during our struggle for freedom and sacrificed a lot, halting and delaying their own development so that we could be free.”
Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni described the late Magufuli as a pragmatic leader who worked for the empowerment of his region.
“I have, with great sadness, learnt of the death of His Excellency John Pombe Magufuli. He was a pragmatic leader who believed in and worked for the economic empowerment of East Africans. We join Tanzania in mourning the passing on of a great son of Africa. May his soul rest in peace,” President Museveni said.
The African Union chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat wrote on Twitter: “The African Union family is united in grief with the Govt & People of #Tanzania by the untimely passing of HE President John Pombe Magufuli. Africa has lost a champion of regional cooperation in the East African region and a committed pan-Africanist leader. May he rest in peace.”
In a televised address, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta declared seven days of mourning for the man he described as a pan-Africanist.
“(President)Magufuli was a champion of pan-Africanism. I have lost a friend and an ally. Africa and the world has lost a leader who steered the EAC (East Africa Community) and the continent,” he said.
Cde Magufuli was elected Tanzania President in October 2015. He was re-elected last year for a second term.
During his reign, President Magufuli embarked on several infrastructural development projects and increased the country’s electricity production.
He is hailed for championing African causes including denouncing the unilateral and illegal imposition of sanctions on Zimbabwe.
At the 39th Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Dar es Salaam in 2019, President Magufuli called for unconditional removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe so as to free its people from the albatross rock that hinders development.
“These sanctions have not only affected the people of Zimbabwe and their Government but the entire region. It is like a human body, when you chop one of its parts it affects the whole body.
“Therefore, I would like to seize this opportunity to urge the international community to lift sanctions it imposed on Zimbabwe. This brotherly country after all has now opened a new chapter and it is ready to engage with the rest of the world. It is therefore, I believe, in the interest of all parties concerned to see these sanctions removed.”
On a State visit to Zimbabwe during the same year, President Magufuli said sanctions had to be removed, to enable the country to develop.
“This embargo should be reconsidered and removed, so the people of Zimbabwe can enjoy their life and develop their country”.
In his address as the outgoing SADC chairperson at the 40th SADC Ordinary Summit Heads of States and Government that was virtually hosted by Mozambique last year, President Magufuli said the whole region would benefit if sanctions were removed.
“It is my strong belief that our nations will benefit if sanctions on Zimbabwe are lifted. It will offer an invaluable contribution not only to Zimbabwe but to the entire continent. These are some of the achievements we have been able to achieve during the past year.
“During the 39th summit, we (SADC) passed the resolution to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe, which were imposed since 2001. In that resolution we approved October 25 of every year to be a special day against sanctions in Zimbabwe where member states will be conducting various activities including preparing dialogues and declarations against the sanctions on Zimbabwe.”