Kikwete: Membe was special friend

FORMER President Dr Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete has eulogised former Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Minister, Bernard Membe (69), describing him as a special friend who helped him in  both his career and political life.

Membe died on Friday morning at Kairuki Hospital in Dar es Salaam where he was taken for treatment owing to chest pains, but lost battle to acute respiratory failure caused by pulmonary embolism.

In his condolence message to Membe’s family Dr Kikwete said he received with great shock the news on the sudden demise of the former experienced diplomat.

“I knew Membe many years ago, I have gone a long way with him, we helped each other on issues related to our families and lives. In general, Membe was of great help to me in my career and political life,” Kikwete eulogised.

Kikwete said he trusted him in various posts he served in the cabinet.  He once served as Deputy Minister for Home Affairs and Ministry of Energy and Minerals before spending nine years as Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Relations.

“He did a great job during his service for the interest of the nation in international sphere,” Kikwete said.

Mr Kikwete further said he recognises the huge contribution of the late Membe in the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi. “He was a member of the National Executive Committee, Central Committee and Secretary for Political and International Relations of the NEC Secretariat … he volunteered and worked hard in all posts he served.”

“I knew Membe as an experienced diplomat, strategist, good scholar, God-fearing,   hardworking, and a bold person who stood for what he believed,” he said.

Adding: “The nation has certainly lost one of its important people; I offer my condolences to my sister-in-law Dorcas Membe (the wife of the deceased) and the children including Cecilia, Richard and Dennis, as well as the grandchildren, relatives and siblings of the late Bernard Membe.

Prof Harun Nyagori, Consultant Cardiologist at the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute (JKCI) and Membe’s family physician said Membe was taken to the hospital in the early hours on Friday owing to chest pains, but lost battle to acute respiratory failure caused by pulmonary embolism.

A Pulmonary Embolism occurs when a blood clot gets stuck in an artery in the lung, blocking blood flow to part of the lung.

Prof Nyagori said Membe began coughing and experiencing chest pain on Thursday and by early Friday morning, he was unable to breathe and was taken to the hospital.

“In short, this disease—which we refer to as acute respiratory failure caused by pulmonary embolism—is caused by a virus that causes clots in the pulmonary tract,” he continued. Membe has long been in good health and has never suffered from long-term conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes,” he was quoted as saying.

Tanzanians will pay their last respects to the diplomat today, starting at 10 am at the Karimjee Hall in Dar es Salaam, according to Mustafa Kamboya Ismail, the spokesperson for the late Membe’s family.

Membe was born in Rondo, Lindi region on November 9, 1953. He served as Tanzania’s Minister for Foreign Affairs from 2007 to 2015. He also represented Mtama constituency in the Parliament between 2000 and 2015.

He began his career as a security analyst at the office of the President between 1978 and 1989 before proceeding to study International Relations at the John Hopkins University, Washington DC, from 1990 to 1992.

On July 15, 2020, Membe joined the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party, which ultimately fielded him as its presidential candidate in the October election. He came third in the final results, losing to CCM’s John Magufuli.

But on May 30, 2022, Membe rejoined CCM after four years after writing a letter asking for readmission.

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