VARIOUS leaders yesterday said former Prime Minister Edward Moringe Sokoine was a leader, who never put his personal interests in leadership, describing him as “a man of the people”. The leaders got a chance to speak about the former leader on Sokoine Memorial Day, an event held in various regions to mark his 35th death anniversary. At his home place in Monduli Juu, Arusha Region, a special prayer service was held with different leaders giving their accounts of how they knew former Prime Minister Sokoine, whose life ended in a road accident in Morogoro Region in 1984.
One of the senior cabinet ministers, Dr Augustine Mahiga, Minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs, gave a eulogy of Mr Sokoine, saying he did almost everything for the interests of the nation, putting aside his personal interests. Sokoine Memorial Day was held in Monduli Juu and it included Holy Mass led by Dar es Salaam Archbishop Polycarp Cardinal Pengo.
Dr Mahiga said he worked closely with Mr Sokoine, when the former was working with Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service TISS), while the latter was Minister for Defence and later as Prime Minister. He said he clearly saw in him how he was dedicated and disciplined to work for the nation, unveiling that one day he was summoned by Mr Sokoine at past midnight to his office and wanted the duo to go through some documents on how to fight against corruption.
“I perceived how he was really dedicated to work for the interests of the nation. One day he called me to his office at 01:00 hours and wanted us to go through some information on fighting against corruption,” said Dr Mahiga. The former Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation minister unveiled that they worked through 0200 hours, Mr Sokoine telling him that they had to complete the work they were given by the then President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, on the same day. He told him to go to sleep, but should be back at the same office by 05:00 hours.
“When I reached at his office early in the morning, I was amazed to find out that he did not go to sleep. Instead, he continued with the work and was actually still working. Integrity and accountability was part of his life. He was not only a zealot to his country, but also did what most of you do not know it,” said Dr Mahiga. He recalled another work he did with the former PM, revealing it as dealing with the threat from the then Ugandan President, Idd Amin, who was planning to attack the country.
He said Mr Sokoine told him thatAmin, who later attacked, had fighter jets and armoury vehicles, while Tanzania had none, but he reiterated that he had to chart a way out how to deal with him. “Mr Sokoine told me that we must have tanks that would be used to down the planes and attack the armoured vehicles of the adversary, but also must have a well-organised infantry and actually they marched fighting and even entered Uganda,” said Dr Mahiga.
The ambassador said it was possible that if Mr Sokoine did not give the advice, the situation would have been different now. He said Mr Sokoine also got information that Uganda was prepared to use biological or toxin weapons, hence he (Mr Mahiga) had to fight a friendly nation that would help. However, he said, Amin stopped using such weapons. He said that after a coup attempt, Mr Sokoine told him (Dr Mahiga) that he could be harmed due to the work he had done, hence in his office, he told him that he should go and live outside the country and when he was in Canada, a year later, he got information of his demise.
Former Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda said he knew Mr Sokoine well, as he was working at the State House. Mr Pinda, who was representing CCM Secretary General, Dr Bashiru Ali, said Mr Sokoine’s death was a big blow to the ruling party because after Mwalimu Nyerere had signalled that he was stepping down, they were sure of Mr Sokoine succeeding him. “For us who were at the State Hose, it was quite clear that he was the one to succeed Mwalimu Nyerere.
Everything pointed to that, but it was ill-fated that he died one year before Mwalimu Nyerere retired. Cardinal Pengo called upon government leaders and Tanzanians to ask God so that the country remained peaceful. He led Holy Mass that was also attended by Arusha Archbishop Isaac Amani. The cardinal said leaders should learn from Mr Sokoine, adding that it was selfishness that led to the breakup of communities and nations, bringing about war. He said it was not right that some people had too much in stock for them, while others died from hunger.
Speaking on a different occasion, Ms Getrude Mongella recalled a dinner party Mr Sokoine organised after a National Assembly session he had adjourned in 1984 in Dodoma, invitees being ministers and regional commissioners. She said the main message was how to implement what they had agreed. She said at some point in time, Mr Sokoine asked among them who would like to travel with him (by road), but most offered excuses and at the end he said it was alright and that they would meet in Dar es Salaam, where he failed to make it, as he died on the way.
At Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), Morogoro Region, where an event to remember Mr Sokoine was also held, chairman of the board of National Ranch Corporation (Narco) Paul Kimiti said he would deliver 10,000 hectares to SUA as pioneered by Mr Sokoine during his commemoration day at the university grounds. “As the chairman, I will find any means possible to get the 10,000 hectares, as I would like it to be a demo farm on livestock keeping and farming for SUA graduates,” he noted. On these grounds, among the responsibilities needed to be fulfilled was to ensure all that the late Sokoine stood for are fulfilled, he declared.
On the other hand, former President of the Pan-African Parliament, Ms Gertrude Mongela, emphasised that Mr Sokoine was not greedy, he had a strong work ethic, was a patriot to his country and believed in working hard. “Among the best works he did was good governance. He respected and adhered to the laws and regulations. He cared and helped citizens seeking his assistance without bias,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Prof Joyce Ndalichako, during her closing remarks celebrating the peak of Sokoine Day, insisted that it was a must for civil servants to change their work ethics and the way they provided services. “We have seen an exemplary man how he served his country. Every government official should respect the responsibilities entrusted to them by Tanzanians.”