Uhuru eulogises Magufuli as a diligent leader

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 00:00 |
The military procession carrying the casket of the late Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli at Jamhuri Stadium in Dodoma, yesterday. President Uhuru Kenyatta was among the nine Heads of State who were in attendance. Photo/PSCU


President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday joined thousands of Tanzanians and visiting leaders, among them eight other African Heads of State, at Jamhuri Stadium in Dodoma for the State funeral of former President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli.

The President, who was accompanied by the East African Community Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohamed, attended the sombre ceremony alongside presidents Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa), Felix Tshisekedi (DR Congo) and Felipe Nyusi (Mozambique).

Also present were presidents Lazarus Chakwera (Malawi), Azali Assoumani (Comoros), Emmerson Mnangagwa (Zimbabwe), Edgar Lungu (Zambia), and Mogkweetsi Masisi (Botswana). 

In his address, President Kenyatta eulogised the fallen Tanzanian Head of State as a hardworking and transformative leader whose rich legacy of success within a short time earned him recognition and respect the world over. 

“We mourn the loss of our friend, our brother, a hardworker, the Hon John Pombe Magufuli.

The President who was respected not only here in Tanzania but the entire East Africa, the whole of Africa and the entire world,” the President said.

He added: “He showed us that, as Africans, we have the potential to liberate ourselves from dependence on foreigners. That we have potential as Africans to manage our economies and ensure our people get justice.” 

Close ally

President Kenyatta, who is also the chairperson of the East African Community, said the late Magufuli was a close ally with whom he spoke regularly, sharing  ideas on the relationship between Kenya and Tanzania, and the progress of the regional bloc.

Janeth Magufuli mourns her husband during the State funeral mass at the Jamhuri Stadium in Dodoma, yesterday. Photo/Courtesy

He wished Tanzania’s new president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, success as she takes over the leadership and assured her of Kenya’s and the regions backing, and rallied Tanzanians to fully support their leader.

“My sister Samia, and now my colleague, you have been shown the way by our brother, the late Magufuli.

You have the mandate, now go forth and serve the people,” President  Uhuru said. 

In her address, President Suluhu said the late Magufuli was loved by many in Tanzania and the region, and regretted the passing away of the Head of State.

“It is difficult to reconcile with the fact that Dr Magufuli is no longer with us,” President Suluhu said, adding that Magufuli was her mentor who helped lift the political profile of Tanzanian women.

“Forever, I will thank Magufuli for my success and the success of the women of Tanzania.

Through him, Tanzania got its first woman Vice-President, who is now the first woman President,” she said.

Beneath his no-nonsense approach to the management of public affairs, President Suluhu said Magufuli was a loving fatherly figure with a playful streak that was only known to those that worked closely with him.

“To many,  Magufuli was known as a no-nonsense person, but for those of us that worked with him, he had a jolly side.

He loved to see results and expected nothing but results. He had no time for hatred and sideshows,” President Suluhu recalled. 

She assured Tanzanians and the entire region that she had what it takes to step into the shoes of Magufuli, who was nicknamed ‘bulldozer’, and lead the East African country into a future of prosperity.

“For those in doubt, this woman will be an effective President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Whoever is standing here is the President. I want to repeat that whoever is standing here is the President,” she affirmed.

She also assured Mrs Janeth Magufuli, the widow of the former President, that her administration will continue looking after her and the family.

In their speeches, the visiting Heads of State eulogised Magufuli as a brave, progressive and firm leader who served with great dedication.

“The Democratic Republic of Congo and the African Union together are saddened by the death of the revolutionary John Magufuli. We are praying for Tanzanians.

The DR Congo is with you in this difficult period,” said President Felix Tshisekedi,  also the African Union chairman. 

He described  the fallen President as a “nationalist and a great defender of the economic freedom of Africa”. 

Great defender

The Congolese leader said Magufuli will forever be remembered for his relentless fight against corruption, and assured Tanzania’s new President of the Africa Union’s support as she steers her country forward.

South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa mourned the late Magufuli as a forthright and bold leader who advocated for the adoption of Kiswahili language in African countries.

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa described him as a “true pan-Africanist” who was unapologetic about being an African.

Ramaphosa remembered the Magufuli  for being a “warrior” against corruption, and who worked for his people.

He also said the fallen  Tanzanian president was a champion for African culture and traditions, especially the use of Swahili, East Africa’s lingua franca, throughout the continent.

“Swahili has been introduced in South African schools in honour to the late Magufuli who insisted on its use,” Ramaphosa said.

This was echoed by Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masese, who said Magufuli was a “great teacher,” like Tanzania’s founding President Julius Nyerere.

“Even in Botswana he expected us to speak Swahili… We too have introduced Swahili in our curricula.” Additional reporting by BBC

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