EX-PRESIDENT Benjamin Mkapa has been described as an economic reformist, diplomat and role model whose legacy would last forever.
Mkapa who died in the early hours yesterday served at the helm of Tanzania’s government from 1995 to 2005, and before that he worked as a minister, ambassador and journalist.
His death has shocked not only Tanzanians, but also the international community.
Speaking at the residence of the deceased in Dar es Salaam, fourth phase president Jakaya Kikwete said Mr Mkapa’s demise was a huge shock for everyone.
Dr Kikwete said he visited Mr Mkapa at the hospital where he was receiving treatment but his condition wasn’t very serious then, and they had a long conversation lasting almost one hour.
“We spoke a lot; he was in pain but wasn’t that critical; I left the hospital hoping that he would be fine and discharged from the hospital but to my surprise, I was informed last night that Mzee Mkapa had passed away,” he explained.
“The country has lost a great leader who worked diligently for the interests of the country, all we can do now is to pray for the strength of his family, as well as honoring all the good things he did for our country,” he added.
The Vice-President, Ms Samia Suhulu Hassan, said Mr Mkapa’s contributions in various sectors, including politics, economy, diplomacy and social welfare would be fondly remembered.
“The demise of our former President Mr Mkapa is a big loss for Tanzania, may he Rest in Peace (R.I.P), she said on her social media accounts.
The secretary General of the ruling party, CCM, Dr Bashiru Ally, said the former president would be remembered for standing firm on national development and his contribution on building the party which he had served as the national chairman.
“He was a leader of his kind, the country and CCM have lost an icon,” he remarked.
The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, was among the heads of state who were saddened by the passing of former President Mkapa saying he was a great Pan- Africanist whose contribution went well beyond Tanzania.
“My deepest condolences to his family, the people of Tanzania and my friend President @MagufuliJP. The loss of our brother Mkapa is one that will be felt throughout the continent,” he wrote on his twitter account.
In their condolences, the France embassy attributed Mr Mkapa’s role on peace building within and outside Tanzania.
The embassy noted that as President, he played a significant role in bringing greater peace and prosperity to Tanzania and the whole region.
“His tireless efforts in reforming the economy, in consolidating peace in the region, fighting corruption and reducing the spread of HIV will remain his outstanding legacies that will continue to be cherished,” read part of the statement.
Those who have sent their condolences include the embassy of the United States to Tanzania, acknowledging his efforts to reform the country’s economy, fighting corruption and reduce the spread of HIV.
“The embassy joins Tanzanian people in mourning the passing of former president Benjamin Mkapa, who worked tirelessly to bring greater peace and prosperity, not just to Tanzania but to the whole region,” read part of the statement.
On its Twitter account, the Embassy of the People Republic of China of Tanzania said it has been saddened by the death of Mr Mkapa, saying he made a great contribution to Tanzania’s development.
The ambassador of the European Union mission to Tanzania Manfredo Fanti was among the diplomats who showed up to Mr Mkapa’s residence at Masaki to mourn the deceased.
“We offer our deepest condolences to the people of Tanzania on the passing of former President Benjamin Mkapa…Together with his family, & all Tanzanians, we pay tribute to his life and legacy,” said the EU in a statement.
For his part, Mr Frederick Sumaye who was the Prime Minister during the Mkapa’s administration described his former boss as the visionary leader who always wanted to be positive changes that would leave a great legacy for the country.
“I worked with him, we trusted each other and he was the leader to count on, he worked hard without fearing anything and always stood firm to what he believed on,” said Mr Sumaye.
His views were seconded by the the former minister of Finance in the Mkapa’s administration Mr Basil Mramba saying the fallen leader would be remembered by among other things, his bold decisions and visions of building country’s economy.
The famous businessman Mohammed Dewji Mo, said he was an outstanding diplomat, an exemplary humanitarian, and a fierce champion of peace. He served with distinction and was a true son of Africa.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of our Former President Mkapa…He is gone, but his service to us will live on as his legacy R.I.P,” he said.
One of the Members of Parliament in Uganda Robert Ssentamu alias Bobiwine on his Twitter account recalled President Mkapa’s service saying he worked diligently, retired peacefully, and cherished democracy.