PRESIDENT Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday mourned late Tanzanian President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli as the man who showed that Africa can succeed without having to depending on foreign aid, a distinguishingly pan-African approach adopted by the departed leader.
In his tribute, Mr Kenyatta, who is also the current East African Community (EAC) chairman, said Dr Magufuli had shown that the continent can keep its head held high and finance most of its projects from revenues collected from within without depending on foreigners, whose aid often comes with many conditions.
“In a very short span of time, President Magufuli has shown that we as Africans are able to disentangle ourselves from the dependence of foreigners and that we have the ability to manage our own economy and ensure that our people get what is rightful to them,” President Kenyatta said in Dodoma during Dr Magufuli’s requiem mass.
The late president often criticised foreign aid, arguing that Tanzania, and indeed the African continent, had the power to fund its own projects domestically. Under Dr Magufuli, the IMF listed Tanzania among the fastest growing sub-Sahara economies, averaging 6 per cent.
Last year, the World Bank admitted the country into the list of Lower Middle Income Economies, although the final process is due to be finalised by end of 2023. Dr Magufuli initiated various infrastructure projects such as the Bagamoyo port construction, the planned oil pipeline from Uganda, the Standard Gauge Railway and capital injection into Air Tanzania.
Besides Mr Kenyatta, the mass was also attended by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Malawi’s Lazarus Chakwera, Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa, Botswana’s Mokgweetsi Masisi, Zambia’s Edgar Lungu, Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique, Hage Geingob of Namibia, Azali Assoumani of Comoros, and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Felix Tshisekedi.
In his speech, President Kenyatta praised Magufuli’s record in putting up hospital buildings, road construction, electricity distribution, all of which he said saw tremendous improvements within a short span of time. He termed Dr Magufuli as a friend with whom he consulted regularly on the EAC, the region, and the economy.
“We spoke every now and then, day and night. We would exchange ideas on our respective countries. His death hit hard...he was respectful,” Mr Kenyatta said during his speech today. “I had to personally come and pay my respects to him,” he added. He also vowed to ensure that the East African integration dream comes to fruition.
To new Tanzanian president Samia Suluhu Hassan, President Kenyatta asked her to follow the path as he promised to hold her hand as she takes over the reigns in the neighbouring country.
“We will keep doing what we have been doing to keep the East African spirit alive and to bring our people together. I assure you that we will walk this journey together to bring the region together and the continent as one,” President Kenyatta said.
He went on: “I have no doubt that my sister [President] Suluhu, you have been shown the road, it has been opened, go ahead.” In his speech, President Ramaphosa, who is the current African Union chairperson, celebrated Dr Magufuli as a true pan-African whose vision to have Swahili as a language of the continent lives on.
“He was a true pan-Africanist who believed the culture of forefathers should be remembered. He wanted us as a nation to embrace Swahili which we have already introduced in our curriculum. In his honor, this will continue across our schools,” President Ramaphosa said. Dr Magufuli, who died on March 17, will be buried on March 26 at his native home in Chato.