The late president’s desire to elevate Chato to a regional status will be supported by the government if it meets the set conditions for promotion
Leaders paid last tribute to the late John Magufuli at a burial ceremony last week.
President Samia Suluhu pledged to finish Magufuli’s legacy projects by ensuring the late president’s pledges are fulfilled.
President Suluhu Hassan in her address to mourners told the people of Chato that her government would continue to work on the late Magufuli's pledges and promises to them to elevate Chato to regional status.
"I have been told the process has already started and I have already directed that it be made a region if it meets the criteria. If it doesn’t meet the criteria we can provide instructions on what should be done so that it eventually does and it becomes a region in respect of the late Magufuli," she said.
She said she was sad that the burial of Magufuli was only her third visit to the town, the first having been to attend the burial of Magufuli’s sister.
Former presidents Kikwete and Mwinyi paid tribute to the late president Magufuli for the role he played in the rapid development of the country, not just in infrastructure but also in restoring the dignity of ordinary citizens.
They both pledged support for President Suluhu and implored the rest of the country to rally behind her leadership. Mr Kikwete disclosed that Magufuli was a close friend and confidant, who served in three ministries in his government and that his death had shocked him and had robbed the country Tanzania of a visionary leader too early.
“When I worked with him in the ruling Chama Chama cha Mapinduzi party, I noticed he was capable of leading us. He was forthright, hardworking but did not take kindly laziness, and corruption,” said Mr Kikwete.
“It was my hope that he would have finished his term, retired, and got a chance to be with other retired leaders. It would have been pleasurable had he lived longer to see the fruits of his labour and a greater Tanzania.”
“He gifted me a piece of land here in Chato, and I desired to build a retirement house where we would catch up. It was not to be,” said Mr Kikwete at a funeral service that was largely attended by family and government and CCM leadership.
In his message to President Suluhu, Kikwete assured her of his unwavering support and rallied Tanzanians to support her unconditionally.
“You worked in my Cabinet and offered a lot of support in uniting the republic. I know you are more than capable. You know well the hopes and admirations of Chama cha Mapinduzi and your countrymen,” said Kikwete, adding “You are the best suited to lead and fulfil Magufuli’s dreams and that of your compatriots. I am assured and comforted that Tanzania’s future is in your good hands.”
Former Mwinyi said he was saddened by the death of Magufuli and praised him for the impactful his leadership citing that even in 40 years, all former presidents never fulfilled Nyerere’s wish to move government to Dodoma. It took Magufuli one term. “He selflessly worked for Tanzanians. For a short five-year period, he wowed the world with how fast he transformed his country. He linked the country by road and opened up air travel. His legacy will live forever.”
Chief Justice Ibrahim Hamis Juma eulogized Magufuli as a person whose work ethic was unparalleled.
“He wanted Tanzania, especially its laws, to be at par with the century we are living in, and used his words to impact lives. I worked with him closely and I know how hardworking he was,” said Chief Justice Juma.
Tanzania's Chief of Defence Forces, Gen Venance Mabeyo assured President Suluhu of the "the same level of military obedience and protection as has always been the tradition and custom of the Tanzanian army towards its commanders in chief."
Gen Mabeyo formally invited President Suluhu to, as one of her first official duties, present medals to the latest batch of graduating military cadets, an event that the late Magufuli was scheduled to attend just before he was taken ill. Gen Mabeyo also said the late Magufuli had "personally told me something that I would like to share with you Madam President, but not here.’’ He said he would instead go to her office to deliver the message.
The army chief was one of several but few speakers at the funeral mass.
The state funeral was marked by a 21-gun military salute, before the casket carrying Magufuli’s remains was taken to his ancestral village a short distance away and finally laid to rest in a simple ceremony conducted within the Magufuli family graveyard.
It is estimated that close to 50,000 Tanzanians and visitors travelled to Chato for the funeral despite poor accommodation facilities in a town that has however grown rapidly since Magufuli took office. It is however not a municipality. The Late president John Magufuli was buried on late Friday afternoon, March 26, in his home in Chato village, Geita in northwest Tanzania at a solemn ceremony.
The final funeral service stared at 9:30am, at the Magufuli Rubambangwe Stadium in Chato and was attended by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, Prime Minister of the government of unity, Cabinet ministers, former presidents Ali Hassan Mwinyi and Jakaya Kikwete, Chama cha Mapinduzi top leaders, top leadership of the Catholic Church in the country and foreign dignitaries.
The one-and-a-half-hours long Holy Mass was conducted by the Tanzania Episcopal Conference president, Archbishop Gervas Nyaisonga, with at least 10 Catholic bishops from various Tanzanian dioceses in honour of a man who was a devout Catholic.
The chairman of the Christian Council of Tanzania, Right Rev Dr Alinikisa Cheyo, and chairman of the National Muslim Council, Chief Sheikh Abubakar Zubeir also attended the mass.
All guest houses and small lodges were reportedly fully booked with visitors spending the night on the floors of various local buildings. Despite being a mineral-rich region hosting a number of international mining companies, there are no high-class hotels or lodging houses.
By Luke Anami, Dorothy Ndalu, Emmanuel Onyango, Apolinari Tairo