Leaders mourn Tanzania's Magufuli

Friday March 19 2021
John Magufuli.

Tanzania's President John Magufuli died on March 17, 2021, the government announced. PHOTO | FILE | NMG

By The EastAfrican

Several world leaders including African heads of state and development partners have commiserated with the Tanzanian people following the death of President John Pombe Magufuli on March 17, in a Dar es Salaam hospital.

Samia Suluhu Hassan, then Vice President, announced Magufuli’s death on Wednesday evening, ending weeks of speculation over the president’s health and whereabouts. Ms Suluhu took oath as president on Friday, becoming the country’s sixth president and first female head of state.

On Thursday, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta declared seven days of national mourning and ordered flags in all public spaces and diplomatic missions to be flown at half-mast.

He eulogised Magufuli as a friend, a colleague, and a visionary ally whom he worked with closely to forge lasting bonds between Kenya and Tanzania.

"On behalf of the Government and People of Kenya, I convey our sincere condolences to the First Lady of Tanzania, HE Mrs Janet Magufuli, their children and his entire family; and affirm our deep solidarity with the Government and People of Tanzania during this challenging time. Tanzania remains in our thoughts and prayers," President said.

Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye declared seven days of national mourning starting Thursday.


“I am terribly saddened to learn the passing of my friend and brother H.E John Pombe Magufuli...My thoughts and prayers go out to the government and people of Tanzania for the loss of a great leader,” he said.

South Sudan’s Salva Kiir declared three days of national mourning.

“The People of the Republic of South Sudan are deeply saddened and grieving with their brothers and sisters in the United Republic of Tanzania. At this moment, the people of the Republic of South Sudan stand in solidarity with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania,” he said in a condolence message on Thursday.

Former Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki: “To his family, friends, Tanzania as a whole and East Africa at large, I convey my message of condolence and pray for Almighty God’s comfort as we all come to terms with this irremediable bereavement.

In his tribute, Kenyan opposition leader and former prime minister, Raila Odinga, who is the African Union special envoy for Infrastructure, described Magufuli as an extraordinary leader who uplifted the stature of the Tanzania nation in the region and among the community of nations.

“I call for the tradition of peaceful and orderly transfer of power needs to hold in Tanzania now more than ever in the interest of the peaceful and friendly people of Tanzania, the East Africa Community, and the Continent of Africa,” he said.

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa: “South Africa is united in grief with the government and people of Tanzania as they go through this difficult moment. I spoke in a phone call to Tanzanian Vice President Her Excellency Samia Hassan Suluhu to express condolences in his personal capacity and on behalf of all South Africans.”

DR Congo will fly its flag at half-mast from March 23-25 in honour of Mr Magufuli as it observes three days of national mourning, President Félix Tshisekedi said.

In a statement broadcast on the Congolese National Radio Television Friday, Mr Tshisekedi said he regrets the “passing of a great leader, fervent pan-Africanist and defender of the cultural and economic independence of Africa.”

Mozambique’s Council of Ministers ordered a five-day national mourning period from March 20-25, during which time its flags will also fly at half-mast.

“The decision of the Mozambique government has to do with the strong ties between Mozambique and Tanzania since the fight for independence before 1975…As well as the support Tanzania gave to Mozambique in following years and the training of Mozambican staff,” a statement from the government extraordinary session said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: “We remain committed to continuing to support Tanzanians as they advocate for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and work to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. We hope that Tanzania can move forward on a democratic and prosperous path. My thoughts are with his loved ones and the people of Tanzania.”

African Union chairperson Moussa Faki said, “The African Union family is united in grief with the government and People of Tanzania by the untimely passing of H.E. President John Pombe Magufuli. Africa has lost a champion of regional cooperation in the East African region and a committed Pan Africanist leader. May he rest in peace.”

Incredible support

The UN system in Tanzania says: “The United Nation in Tanzania is saddened by the news of the demise of @magufuliJP President of the United Republic of Tanzania. We convey our heartfelt condolences to the government of the United Republic of Tanzania, his family and people of Tanzania. May his soul rest in peace.”

Akinwumi Adesina President, African Development Bank Group: “I thanked the late president for his incredible support for him and the African Development Bank and allowing his organisation work in Tanzania. May his soul rest in peace.” 

Mr Wu Peng, the director-general of the Department of African Affairs in the China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, says: “I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of H.E. President Magufuli of Tanzania. As a great leader, President Magufuli will be remembered by his people for his remarkable endeavour to develop the country, and by Chinese people for his contribution to our profound friendship.”

Report by Anthony Kitimo, The EastAfrican, Garang Malak, Moses Havyarimana, Arnaldo Vieira and Patrick Ilunga.