Life of humble soul, man of wisdom

TANZANIA: AS the sun set yesterday, Tanzanians were saddened by the news of the passing of former President Mzee Ali Hassan Mwinyi.

The humble soul, popular as Mzee Rukhsa, departed after succumbing to lung cancer at the age of 98. Son of Hassan and Asha Sheikh Mwinyi, Ali Hassan Mwinyi was born on May 8 in 1925, in Coast Region of Mainland Tanzania.

Mwinyi, a soft-spoken man of wisdom, grew up on the island of Zanzibar, where his parents were born. It was here that his journey into politics kicked off, he humbly rose to become one of Tanzania’s most celebrated politicians.

His career is a tale of humble beginnings. He acquired a Diploma from the University of Adult Education, Dublin England between 1954-56.

Mzee Mwinyi was a teacher by profession. He taught at Mangapwani and Bumbwini Primary Schools in Zanzibar. In 1960, Mwinyi married Siti Mwinyi and they had twelve children.

Mwinyi joined Afro Shiraz Party (ASP) in 1964 and held different positions for the Government of Zanzibar and United Republic of Tanzania such as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education of Zanzibar in 1963.

In 1970 he was Minister of State in the President’s Office of the United Republic of Tanzania and between 1982-83 he was Minister of Health, Home Affairs, Natural Resources and Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania in Egypt from 1977 to 1982.

In 1983 he was appointed Minister of State in Vice-President’s Office and in 1984 he was elected the President of Zanzibar and Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

When Tanzania’s First President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere stepped down in 1985, Mwinyi took over as the President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

He served two terms and stepped down in 1995 when Tanzania held its first ever multi-party election. He was succeeded by Benjamin Mkapa who won the 1995 general election.

Mwinyi also served as the chairman of the ruling party, CCM, from 1990 to 1996. He will always be remembered as a leader who orchestrated massive socioeconomic reforms after taking the reigns at the time when liberal policies were dominating geopolitics.

Mzee Mwinyi played a significant role in implementing economic reforms and political changes during his time in office. He is known for his efforts to liberalise the Tanzanian economy and reintroduce multi-party politics in the country.

His leadership was characterised by a commitment to promoting democracy, economic development and social progress in Tanzania.

During his time in office, former President Mwinyi’s second-phase government implemented liberalisation policies, reduced import restrictions and encouraged private enterprises.

These actions led to him being affectionately known as ‘Mzee Rukhsa’. During his presidency, Mzee Mwinyi played a significant role in liberalising the Tanzanian market by implementing economic reforms that shifted away from socialist ideologies.

He introduced policies that encouraged private sector growth, reduced government intervention in the economy and promoted foreign investment.

These changes aimed to improve efficiency, stimulate economic growth and create a more businessfriendly environment in Tanzania.

Mwinyi’s efforts to review and reform preexisting socialist ideologies were instrumental in shaping Tanzania’s economic landscape during his tenure.

During his second term in office, President Mwinyi oversaw the reintroduction of multi-party politics in Tanzania. This significant shift marked a departure from the single-party system that had been in place since the 1960s.

Mwinyi’s decision to allow for the formation of multiple political parties was a key step towards democratisation and political pluralism in Tanzania.

The reintroduction of multi-party politics provided citizens with more options for political representation and participation, leading to a more diverse and competitive political landscape in the country.

Mwinyi’s support for this transition demonstrated his commitment to fostering democracy and political freedom in Tanzania.

After leaving office, Mwinyi remained active in Tanzanian politics and continued to be involved in various national and international initiatives.

He is widely respected for his contributions to Tanzania’s political and economic development and is considered a key figure in the country’s transition to a more open and democratic society.

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