AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
THE heads of states of southern African countries have paid warm tributes to the late John Pombe Magufuli at a special memorial service held in the national capital Dodoma today.
Thousands filled the Jamhuri Stadium in Dodoma, where Magufuli’s body lies in state. Men, women and children wept openly in a show of love and respect for Magufuli, whose body was taken through the streets of Dodoma, before being taken to the stadium for an official memorial service.
At least 10 heads of state have arrived in Dodoma for the official memorial service. Those who paid their respects to Magufuli include his close friend and President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, Mozambican president Filipe Nyusi, Yoweri Museveni the President of Uganda, Mokgwetsi Masisi, the President of Botswana, Lazarus Chakwera, President of Malawi, Felix Tshesekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The heads of states used the occasion to also recognise the key role that Tanzania has played in the liberation of all southern African countries.
In his tribute, Ramaphosa praised Magufuli for standing firm against corruption and for believing that leaders must work for their people and not for themselves. He said the Tanzanian president also focussed, correctly so, on the economic development of Tanzania and the southern African region.
“In President Magufuli, we have lost a true Pan Africanist, a president who was unapologetic for being an African,” Ramaphosa said.
Hundreds descended on the Jamuhuri Stadium in Dodoma to pay their respects to Magufuli who, according to the government, died from a heart condition. Before arriving in Dodoma, the late president’s body lay in state at the Uhuru Stadium in Dar Es Salaam after being taken through the streets of Tanzania’s biggest city.
Tomorrow, the body will be taken to Mwanza before it’s last destination, Chato, where the late president will be buried on Friday.
Tanzanians have begun a 21 day period to pay their final respects to their late president.
Magufuli has been replaced by Samia Salou Hassan who was sworn in on Friday.
In an unprecedented move, Uganda and Kenya have declared mourning periods for Magufuli.
The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta has declared a 7-day mourning period for Magufuli and ordered that flags must be flown at half mast.
Uhuru also paid a special visit to the Tanzanian High Commission in Nairobi to pay his respects to a presidential colleague who was also a close friend.
Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, has declared a 14 day mourning period.
Other African heads of states have also paid tribute to Magufuli. President Paul Kagame said Magufuli was a steadfast pan African and a friend of Rwanda.
Sahle-Work Zewde, the President of Ethiopia said: “It is with deep sadness that I learned the passing of President John P #Magufuli. He welcomed me in Chato 6 weeks ago where we had an excellent exchange.He was a good friend of #Ethiopia and many Ethiopians he knew. We have lost a great African.May his soul rest in eternal Peace.”