We register sincere condolences to the family of Dr John Pombe Joseph Mugufuli, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), the Leadership and people of Tanzania, and the leadership and people of East Africa over the passing on of President Mugufuli. At the age of 61, he still had a lot to accomplish.
President Magufuli has been a great Tanzanian nationalist and pan-Africanist. Just like his predecessors Jakaya Kikwete, Benjamin Mkapa, and Ali Hassan Mwinyi, he tried to follow closely and pursue the values and aspirations set for Tanzania by the founding father of the nation, former president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.
In this regard, Magufuli preached and promoted patriotism, nationalism and unity in Tanzania; hard-work (kuchapa kazi) and frugality; Tanzanian self- reliance; and meritocracy in public appointments and deployments.
President Magufuli’s two major contributions to Tanzania and East Africa are the introduction of a rare sense of urgency about everything he handled or implemented; he equally believed in the focused and optimal utilisation of Tanzania’s local resources as a means of achieving the socio-economic transformation of Tanzania.
This was done partly through supporting and promoting tourism and putting in place requisite complimentary infrastructure in the tourism attraction areas.
Magufuli revolutionarised the mining sector and increased the stake and earnings for Tanzanians in the sector.
He established core infrastructure projects (ports, Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), roads, electricity and water connections). He equally gave Dar es Salaam, Dodoma and other major urban centres a new look by addressing physical planning, transport challenges and attracting investment for industrial and services sectors.
Most importantly, he addressed the efficiency of government operations by instantly retiring non-performing and corrupt officials! He at the same time, terminated poorly negotiated contracts and incompetent contractors be they foreign or local, without fear or favour.
The aforementioned set the tone for Tanzania’s graduation into a Middle Income Class Economy whose potential for going forward is unimaginable.
As for Uganda, Magufuli in partnership with President Museveni and other regional leaders, mainstreamed projects which should help catalyse the integration of East Africa as well as transform the lives of our people. These include:
- The Uganda/Tanzania oil pipeline project from Hoima to the sea Port of Tanga. This makes it possible for Uganda to start oil production, refining and export.-
- The development of the sea Port of Tanga to serve Uganda and other neighbouring countries as desired and directed by president Nyerere in 1979/80, after the fall of president Idi Amin.
- Improvement of the Port of Mwanza on Lake Victoria to give a boost to water transport in the region.
- Development of an electric Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) network to link and serve the Great Lakes region.
Uganda and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) have no doubt lost a vital development partner.
The lesson we learn from Magufuli is that by having the confidence and resolve to tap and put to gainful use our local resources, optimally utilising the country’s earnings and pursuing everything with a greater sense of urgency and enhanced implementation speed we can transform our communities and countries and propel them to greater heights. This is the legacy he has left behind. We should endeavour to emulate him.
It is unfortunate, President Magufuli had challenges with the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and his approach was not readily appreciated by the international community. This is a matter that the new leadership of Tanzania will have to confront.
We shall all miss this great Tanzanian leader and Pan-Africanist. He was unstoppable and is unforgettable. May the soul of president Mugufuli rest in eternal peace.
Mr Daudi Migereko is a former minister,
MP for Butembe and current chairman Uganda Tourism Board