Dar es Salaam – African leaders on Monday gathered in the Tanzanian capital of Dodoma to pay their last respects to former President John Magufuli who died last week, describing him as a true and dedicated son of Africa.
Dr Magufuli (61) died in office from a heart condition on March 17 in the country’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
In their eulogies at a state funeral at Jamhuri Stadium in Dodoma, leaders said Dr Magufuli was a fighter and patriot not only for Tanzania but for the entire African continent.
President Felix Tshisekedi of the DRC said Dr Magufuli was a no-nonsense leader when it came to fighting corruption.
The death of Magufuli has robbed Africa of a fighter and patriot. His death has affected the entire African continent, said President Tshisekedi, who is also Chairperson of the African Union.
The DRC leader urged Tanzanians to continue cherishing what Dr Magufuli had stood for, adding: “President Magufuli wished to see African development overseen by Africans for the benefit of Africans.”
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, also chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the regional bloc had lost a brave and hardworking leader.
President Nyusi said Dr Magufuli, a former SADC chairperson, looked forward to seeing a Southern African that was free from dependence on foreign countries.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, chairman of the East African Community (EAC), said Dr Magufuli had taught African leaders that the continent with its abundant resources was well placed to stop its dependence on foreign aid.
“During his lifetime President Magufuli and I exchanged ideas on several occasions on how to improve the EAC and the African Union,” said President Kenyatta.
President Kenyatta told President Hassan that Dr Magufuli had shown her the road ahead and urged Tanzanians to rally behind her in efforts aimed at making the country prosperous.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Africa had lost a true Pan-Africanist, who preferred to stay in his country serving his people instead of spending his time traveling around the world.
“The late President Magufuli was forthright, fearless and transformational,” added Zambian President Edgar Lungu.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe said Dr Magufuli was passionate about the development of his people, adding that he was also unwavering on matters of principle.
“He gave his life for the service of his people and Africa in general,” said President Mnangagwa; as other tributes poured in from Comoros, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.
In her remarks, President Hassan assured Tanzanians that the country is in good hands.
“Let us continue from where the late President Magufuli stopped. Let us cooperate and unite,” she said.
She said people should not doubt about her presidency because she was a woman. “I am standing here as the president,” said President Hassan to thunderous applause.
Dr Magufuli will be buried in his home in Chato district of Geita region on March 26.
The late president was born in Chato, Geita region, on October 29, 1959. He was elected the president of Tanzania in October 2015, and was re-elected in October 2020. – Xinhua