East African Community leaders have expressed grief in solidarity with Tanzanians following the death on Wednesday.
Dr Magufuli’s death has been attributed to heart complications despite weeks of speculation that he had contracted the deadly coronavirus.
Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta who is the current chairman of the East African Community (EAC) responded by declaring seven days of national mourning. Kenyatta said Kenya and the East Africa Community (EAC) flags to fly at half-mast until the late President is buried.
President Museveni of Uganda described Magufuli as a pragmatic leader and a great son of Africa.
“I have, with great sadness, learnt of the death of His Excellency John Pombe Magufuli. He was a pragmatic leader who believed in and worked for the economic empowerment of East Africans. We join Tanzania in mourning the passing of a great son of Africa. In honour of his contribution, I direct all the flags in Uganda to fly at half- mast until the day of his burial. May the Almighty God Rest His Soul in Eternal Peace” May his soul rest in peace” Museveni posted on Twitter.
Magufuli becomes the second head of state to die in a period of one year in East Africa after the demise of Burundi’s Pierre Nkurunziza who succumbed to COVID-19 in June 2020.
“I am terribly saddened to learn of the passing of my friend & brother H.E John Pombe Magufuli, President of the United Republic of #Tanzania. My thoughts & prayers go out to the Government and People of Tanzania & his Family for the loss of a Great Leader, a true Panafricanist” -Evariste Ndayishimiye of Burundi said.
Other East African heads of state including president Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Salva Kiir of South Sudan were yet to issue statements (on available media platforms) by the time this story was filed.
Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition leader eulogized Magufuli as an extraordinary leader; says the Tanzanian president was by his side during his most difficult and painful moments.
Exiled Tanzania’s opposition leader and Magufuli’s strongest critic Tundu Lissu was quoted to have said Tanzanians will breath a sigh of relief after “years of repression.” Despite being thousands of miles away from Tanzania, Lissu on Tuesday affirmed news of Magufuli’s death claiming an official declaration was underway.
Tundu Lissu also said he is ready to return from Belgium where he fled to immediately after the October presidential election which he lost to Magufuli.
From Kenya; “It is with deep sadness that I have learned of the passing of my friend, President Magufuli. He and his family have been close friends for a long time. He’s been by my side at my most difficult and painful moments. My condolences to his family and the people of Tanzania” Raila Odinga posted on Twitter.
Uganda’s opposition leader, Robert Kyagulanyi also sent condolences to the fallen leader. “My heartfelt condolences to the people of the United Republic of Tanzania on losing President John Pombe Magufuli. Eternal repose.” He posted in a message on his account.
His critics agree that Magufuli contributed to Tanzania’s development. He invested in large infrastructure projects such as a standard-gauge railway to connect the country with its neighbours, major highways, and a bus system in the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam.
He also increased electricity production, reducing the need for power rationing.
But it is his approach to Covid-19 that many analysts say will define his legacy. There has been little testing in the country and no plans made for a vaccination programme, leaving the country as an outlier.
According to the country’s constitution, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan will be sworn in and will lead for the remainder of Magufuli’s term until 2025. He had just been re-elected in November last year. She becomes the first female President in Tanzania and East Africa.