Tanzania's finance minister dies in South Africa

Thursday January 02 2014

Tanzania's Finance minister William Mgimwa during presentation of the government’s 2013/14 Budget in Parliament in Dodoma June 13, 2013. He died January 1, 2014 in a South African hospital, where he had been admitted for more than a month. Photo/FIDELIS FELIX/FILE

Dar es Salaam

Tanzania's Minister for Finance, Dr William Augustao Mgimwa, 63, died Wednesday in a South African hospital, where he was admitted for more than one month.

Chief Secretary said Dr Mgimwa, who was also the Kalenga MP, died at Kloof MediClinic Hospital in Pretoria.

Mr Sefue said Tanzania’s High Commission in Pretoria was working in collaboration with the government to bring Dr Mgimwa’s body home.

Asked what the minister was suffering from, Mr Sefue said: “ I’m not a medical expert. I think his family is better placed to answer your question.”

A spokesman for Tanzania’s High Commission in Pretoria, Mr Habib Awesi, said in a telephone interview that the mission had prepared a report on the minister’s death and communicated it to the chief secretary. President Jakaya Kikwete said he had received news of Dr Mgimwa’s death with profound shock and sadness.


He said in a condolence message to Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda that the nation has lost Dr Mgimwa at a time when his contribution to national development as a minister and MP was needed most.

“I don’t have the right words to express how shocked I am following news of the death of Honourable Mgimwa,” President Kikwete said.

“I personally visited him twice in hospital. His condition was encouraging when I last visited him. We talked for about 10 minutes, and he told me that he was looking forward to returning home.”

President Kikwete said Dr Mgimwa’s contribution to national development had left an indelible mark.

He also sent his condolences to Dr Mgimwa’s family and his constituents in Iringa Region.

Chadema said it had been jolted by Dr Mgimwa’s death, and sent its condolences to President Kikwete, the late minister’s family and the ruling CCM.

Several ministers and MPs sent their condolence messages through their social network accounts.

Dr Mgimwa was the third Finance minister in President Jakaya Kikwete’s administration. Others were Mrs Zakia Meghji, the first woman to hold the post, and Mr Mustafa Mkullo.

His death takes the number of vacant dockets in President Kikwete’s cabinet to five following last month’s sacking of Mr Shamsi Vuai Nahodha (Defence and National Service), Dr Emmanuel Nchimmbi (Home Affairs), Mr Khamis Kagasheki (Natural Resources and Tourism) and Dr Mathayo David (Livestock Development and Fisheries).

Dr Mgimwa was born on January 20, 1950 in Kalenga, Iringa Region.

A banker by profession and former Principal of the Bank of Tanzania Training Institute in Mwanza, he joined politics in 2010 when he vied for and won the Kalenga parliamentary seat after fiercely contested primaries.

His appointment as Finance minister in May 2012, during a major Cabinet reshuffle surprised many, especially his political rivals.  Few people expected the soft-spoken-banker-turned-politician to land the powerful Cabinet position.

Speculation swirled Wednesday as to what may have caused the minister’s death, with unconfirmed reports saying he may have been poisoned. However, family members and the government remained tight-lipped.

On December 31, last year, reports from Pretoria said some of Dr Mgimwa’s vital organs, including the kidneys and liver, had ceased to function.

Dr Mgimwa graduated with a Master’s degree in Management and Business Administration (Finance) at the Institute of Development Management (now Mzumbe University) in Mzumbe, Morogoro Region, in 1991.

He obtained a postgraduate diploma (Finance) in 1984 at the Institute of Finance Management (IFM) and Advanced Diploma in Banking at the same institute in 1978.

Dr Mgimwa worked with the Bank of Tanzania Training Institute in Mwanza as principal between 2000 and 2010 and director with the National Bank of Commerce (NBC) between 1997 and 2000.

He previously worked with NBC as accountant (1980-81), college lecturer (1981-89) and manager (1996-97).

He attended Tosa and Wasa primary schools, Mafinga Seminary and Tosamaganga Seminary School, completing his secondary education in 1969.

On the political front, Dr Mgimwa has held various leadership positions at ward and district levels in Wasa and Gangilonga, Iringa District.

He has also authored various publications, including Liquidity Management in the Tanzania Bankers Journal in 1994, Commercial Bank Lending Journal in 1995, Advanced Credit Operations in 2007 and Advanced Treasury Management.