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Magufuli an action-oriented leader: President

President Mnangagwa pays his last respects to Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli at Jamhuri Stadium in Dodoma city during a memorial service yesterday. — Picture: Presidential Photographer Joseph Nyadzayo.

Zvamaida Murwira recently in DODOMA, Tanzania

Zimbabwe and Tanzania will continue to deepen and enhance bilateral cooperation that existed between the two countries during the time of President John Magufuli, who died of a heart ailment last week, President Mnangagwa said yesterday.

He said President Magufuli was a man of the people who established a reputation as an action-oriented leader determined to improve the lives of not only Tanzanians, but the Sadc region and the whole continent.

The President said Zimbabwe will remember him for his role in championing the removal of Western-imposed sanctions on Harare and supporting Zimbabwe when Cyclone Idai hit the country, among others.

President Mnangagwa said this while addressing 10 Heads of State and Government, who included new Tanzanian leader President Samia Suluhu Hassan who thronged Jamhuri Stadium, in Dodoma, the official capital city of Tanzania during a memorial service for Dr Magufuli.

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“I want to assure you, Your Excellency, President Samia Suluhu Hassan and the heroic people of the United Republic of Tanzania, of the continued support, solidarity and cooperation of Zimbabwe as you pursue the dream and vision you shared with the late departed President John Pombe Magufuli,” said President Mnangagwa.

“We have lost a friend of our country, a dear brother, a comrade, an admirable leader and a man of the people. May you take comfort and solace in the awareness that our thoughts and prayers are with you.

“The late President John Pombe Magufuli established a reputation as a man of action, in order to hasten the pace of development in Tanzania. He was a true Pan-African who believed in the need for Africa to increase economic cooperation and trade for the benefit of our peoples.”

President Mnangagwa added that Dr Magufuli was a leader who led from the front, who was passionate about the welfare of his people and the development and prosperity of Africa through the maximum benefits from the numerous God-given resources on the continent.

President Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was inspired upon learning that Tanzania had attained lower middle income status, five years ahead of target, as set in the Tanzania Development Vision 2025.

“This was indeed one of the many milestone achievements which are testimony of the astute, incisive and focussed leadership of the late President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli,” said President Mnangagwa.

He chronicled how President Magufuli, as Chairperson of Sadc between August 2019 and 2020, steered the regional bloc towards increased intra-regional trade and job creation and also stood unwavering on matters of principle.

“The people of Zimbabwe will always remember him for the pivotal role he played as Chairperson in having Sadc set aside October 25 as a day for the collective call for the removal of the illegal sanctions imposed on our country,” said President Mnangagwa.

He said Tanzania played an integral role during the liberation struggle and President Magufuli continued to cherish it.

“The late President Magufuli paid a visit to Zimbabwe and when he did so as he did to South Africa, he brought boxes of Swahli books. But he was delighted when I told him that Zimbabwe already offered a degree in Swahili in one of the universities. Then he asked me whether I have been to Tanzania before, I said the people of Tanzania are revolutionary people. 

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“They gave birth to the Republic of the Zimbabwe, I told him that I came to Tanganyika at the time in 1963 and we opened our first camp with Frelimo at Bagamoyo. We were only 59 cadres. So he promised that when I reciprocate his visit to Tanzania he would allow me to visit Bagamoyo camp. I am happy to say to you the people of Tanzania when I came over he facilitated and I was taken to Bagamoyo camp where I donated US$60 000,” said President Mnangagwa to wild applause.

He said Tanzania was one of the first African countries to donate tonnes of food and medical supplies following the Cyclone Idai disaster in Zimbabwe.

President Mnangagwa said President Magufuli called him in the middle of the night inquiring how his country could assist to mitigate the effects of Cyclone Idai.

“He telephoned me at night when I was sleeping, then when I realised it was President Magufuli I attended. He said my dear brother, I know you have been struck by Cyclone Idai, what can we do to assist. Then I said my brother you can assist with food, he said ‘yes,’ blankets he said ‘yes,’ medicine he said ‘yes’ and because I was sleeping I said mosquitos and he was surprised and I said ‘no’ I meant mosquito nets and of course, with tents. And indeed the following day in the evening a plane-load of Air Tanzania arrived with these things,” said President Mnangagwa.   

Speaking in Swahili, President Hassan pledged to continue fighting for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe.

At least nine Heads of State and Government were in Tanzania yesterday to pay their last respects to Dr Magufuli.

They were Presidents Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi (Botswana), Felex Tshisekedi (Democratic Republic of Congo and African Union Chairperson), Filipe Nyusi (Mozambique), Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), Dr Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi), and Edgar Lungu (Zambia), among others.

All the leaders, including those representing their Heads of State and Government, took turns to deliver eulogies before a packed stadium.

It was a sombre atmosphere when the body of Dr Magufuli arrived in the stadium.

Thousands of residents of Dodoma city lined up the streets leading from the airport right up to Jamhuri Stadium to have a glimpse of the arrival of African leaders and the body of Dr Magufuli.

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Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa returned home last night and was welcomed at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport by Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, several ministers, senior Government officials and service chiefs.

HERALD