Tributes Pouring into Tanzania as Neigbours Mourn a “Great Patriot” and “Pacesetter” of Economic Development of East Africa

Condolence messages from across Africa have been coming through thick and fast, following the death of Tanzanian President, John Pombe Magufuli. Several leaders on the continent have just as their citizens used traditional or social media to express their sadness over the death of President Magufuli.

For a while, after he became President, Magufuli captured the imagination of several citizens on the African continent. Within a month of his becoming President in 2015, the hashtag #WhatWouldMagufuliDo# was trending due to the reforms he was undertaking. Magufuli is trending again as Tanzania’s neighbours, led by their leaders mourn his death.   

Leaders across Africa have said President Magufuli was a Pan-Africanist who loved his country and the continent.  

In Zambia, President Edgar Chagwa Lungu described the late Magufuli as an outspoken, fearless, and practical modern African leader who made the world pay attention to his unconventional leadership, as he transformed Tanzania. 

“Allow me, therefore, to extend, on behalf of the government and people of the Republic of Zambia and indeed on my own behalf, sincere condolences to the Government and People of the United Republic of Tanzania, as well as the bereaved family on this great loss of this prolific son of Africa,” said President Lungu, in a statement issued by Statehouse Special Assistant for press and public relations, Isaac Chipampe.


Zambian President, Edgar Lungu pays tribute to Magufuli (C) African Arguments


President Lungu noted that the untimely death of President Magufuli will forever be painfully etched in the collective memory of the People of Tanzania for his selflessness resolve to bring about socio-economic transformation and prosperity to his countrymen. 

As a champion in the fight against corruption, Magufuli routinely sacked public officials for underwhelming delivery. President Magufuli was also a careful borrower, who paid attention to the terms of loans he committed to, on behalf of Tanzania.

When his counterparts in East Africa signed an agreement to borrow from China for construction of a standard gauge railway that was to link Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Rwanda, Tanzania under Magufuli chose a different tack, getting initial financing from Standard Chartered Bank of Tanzania.

In the end, Tanzania’s standard gauge railway appears to have come off as the most successful in East Africa, as Kenya is now struggling with what the country’s auditor general has said are unfavourable loan terms, while Uganda never got the money from China, which made the connection to Rwanda and South Sudan impossible. Rwanda has since negotiated a connection to the Indian Ocean through Tanzania’s standard gauge railway. 

Tanzania under Magufuli also sought to renegotiate a $10 billion loan from China.

The loan which had been approved in 2013 during the term of Jakaya Kikwete as President, was cancelled when Magufuli sought to renegotiate it. The terms of a loan to construct a water port in Bagamoyo, would have seen Tanzania offer a lease of 99 uninterrupted years to China Merchants Holdings International. Magufuli halted the project, saying only a drunkard would accept such terms.    

President Lungu says on the regional front, President Magufuli will be remembered for his immense contribution towards the growth of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) through his recent Chairmanship of the regional body.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, whose country is also, a member of SADC expressed his condolences via Twitter, saying he had spoken in a phone call to Tanzanian Vice President, Samia Hassan Suluhu to express condolences.

“South Africa is united in grief with the government and people of Tanzania as they go through this difficult moment,” said Ramaphosa in a statement via Twitter.

Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni says East Africa has lost a great builder (C) TRT World


In Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni announced that flags will be flying at half-mast until after the day of Magufuli’s burial.

“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,” he said.

President Museveni said he had learnt from Magufuli how to end wastefulness as a leader. He highlighted President Magufuli’s banning of unnecessary travel among Tanzanian public officials.

Within days of becoming President, Magufuli banned foreign travel for senior public officials, saying Tanzanian embassies were equipped with the right quality of leadership to handle any government business on behalf of their country.

On a continent, where most heads of state and their wives will jump at any opportunity to leave their country for a holiday, or meetings in western capitals, Magufuli rarely left Tanzania and as President never visited any country outside of the African continent.

In his years as President, Magufuli only visited Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Namibia, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. He also met former President Pierre Nkurunziza at the Tanzania, Burundi border.   

In a comment that helps with the timeline of the Tanzanian President’s sickness, Museveni said he last spoke to Magufuli on Feb 27 just before the East African Community heads of state’s meeting. Museveni said Magufuli told him he was feeling unwell and would therefore not attend the heads of state’s meeting that took place on the same day the two spoke.

Museveni says that when he joined the East African heads of state’s summit, Magufuli was absent and was instead represented by Vice President Suluhu. Just like Uganda, Tanzania, alongside Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and Kenya are members of the East African Community.

Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta mourns a man of valour and candour (C) The Standard


In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced seven days of mourning, after a statement in which he said President Magufuli was a friend, a colleague, and a visionary ally.  

“I learnt with immense sorrow and immense sadness of the untimely passing of my dear brother His Excellency John Pombe Magufuli, President of the United Republic of Tanzania. On behalf of the government and people of Kenya, I convey our sincere condolences to the first lady of Tanzania her Excellency Janet Magufuli, their children, the entire Magufuli family and indeed affirm our deep solidarity with the government and people of Tanzania during this challenging time,” he said.