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President Museveni Declares Three Days of Mourning for Tanzania's Mkapa

"When he became President of Tanzania, we worked together to consolidate the East African Community. It is a great loss for Africa. May his soul rest in eternal peace," said Museveni
posted onJuly 25, 2020
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President Yoweri Museveni has paid tribute to former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa, who died at the age of 81 in a Dar es Salaam hospital, and has declared three days of mourning by Uganda for the fallen ex-leader.

Mkapa, whose death was announced by the Tanzanian government on Friday, was the East African nation's third post-independence president.

"It is with a lot of sadness that I heard of the death of our brother, H.E Benjamin Mkapa," tweeted President Museveni.

"I started working with H.E Mkapa in 1967 when we were university students and he was the chief editor of the Nationalist newspaper.

"During the 1979 crisis, Ndugu Mkapa was delegated to handle the Moshi Conference that brought together the Ugandan exile groups including FRONASA. He was Foreign Affairs Minister at that time.

"When he became President of Tanzania, we worked together to consolidate the East African Community. It is a great loss for Africa. May his soul rest in eternal peace," said Museveni.

"I convey my condolences and those of the People of Uganda to Anne, the children and the people of Tanzania. The flags in Uganda will fly at half-mast for three days, starting  Saturday, July 25th, at 0600hrs (Saa kumi nambili)."

In a brief televised speech, President John Magufuli said Mkapa's death "is a big loss" for Tanzania.

"I'm saddened by the death of the third president of Tanzania and that is a big loss for us as a country. Let's pray for him and more information will follow later."

The Tanzanian president did not reveal the cause of death.

East African Leaders Eulogize Mkapa

Meanwhile, regional leaders, politicians, technocrats are all eulogizing Mkapa as a man who helped to bring peace not only in the East African Region but Africa as a whole. Many say that Mkapa believed in the East African integration and the coming together of all Africans.

Among those eulogizing Mkapa is the Ugandan Senior Presidential Advisor for Special Operations Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba who said he was saddened by the death of President Mkapa.

"Very sad to hear of the passing of our elder, Mzee Benjamin Mkapa.We celebrate his outstanding public-spiritedness, his peace mediation efforts in the East African region (particularly Kenya and Burundi), and his efforts to integrate East Africa. May his soul rest in eternal peace," Gen Kainerugaba tweeted.

President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya through the State House twitter handle described the late as an outstanding East African who worked tirelessly for the integration, peace and progress of the region. 

“President Kenyatta wished the family of the former President and all Tanzanians God's comfort and fortitude as they mourn their departed leader,” Kenyatta’s message reads in part.

Mkapa was very instrumental in bringing peace to Kenya after the disputed elections of 2007. He, together with the former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anan and Graca Machel, the wife to Nelson Mandela negotiated a power-sharing agreement between President Mwai Kibaki and the eventual Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Mkapa, Kofi Anan, Graca Machel, Kenneth Kaunda, the former president of Zambia, Joachim Chissano, the former president of Mozambique, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Thabo Mbeki, the former president of South Africa among others formed the African Council of the Wise. These statesmen and women have helped broker peace around Africa, from South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Sudan, Kenya or Burundi.

In his message, through twitter, Raila Odinga refers to Mkapa as a great friend of the Kenyan people, a Pan-Africanist, a true believer in South-South Cooperation and a global statesman.

“In Kenya, we retain fond memories of his mediation efforts…that helped the country return to peace… Mkapa believed in regional integration and championed the revival of the East Africa Community. In his death, Africa has lost a giant,” Odinga said in his tweet.

Mkapa’s statesmanship and peacebuilding don’t stop in Kenya, he was also at the forefront of bringing peace back to Burundi after a devastating civil war. In 2000, the famous Arusha Accord was signed that has seen Burundi have relative peace until 2015 when the former President Pierre Nkurunziza sought a third term. Even then, Mkapa was called upon to help in bringing back the peace in the tiny East African nation. 

Little wonder that the CNDDS-FDD, the ruling party of Burundi expressed their sadness to the news of the passing of Mkapa. “We join the people of Tanzania and the CCM party to express our sadness and deepest condolences to the passing of…Benjamin Mkapa. His outstanding contribution to the inter Burundian dialogue will be remembered,” CNDD tweeted.

Burundi’s President Evariste Ndayishimiye equally expressed his condolences to the passing of Mkapa. He described his demise as a great loss not only to the people of Tanzania but also to Africa as a whole. Together with President Yoweri Museveni, and Daniel Arap Moi of Kenya, Mkapa revived the East African Community on November 30, 1999, after signing the re-establishment treaty.

Even though he was a senior member of the government of Mwalim Julius Nyerere, whose conflict with Uganda’s Idi Amin Dada led to the collapse of the East African Community, for the 10 years Mkapa was president, he was unwavering in his support for the block.

In his message through his official handle, the East African Community Secretary-General Libérat Mfumukeko said they had been saddened by the death of Mkapa, a signatory to the EAC Treaty.

“We have lost a pioneer and fervent guardian of East African unity. My condolences to his family, the government and people of Tanzania,” Mfumukeko’s said.

Mkapa’s Alma matter; Makerere University too sent in their eulogy. In a tweet through its official twitter handle, the university regretted the loss of one of the most prominent personalities it has ever produced.

In 2009, Makerere awarded Mkapa an honorary Doctorate of Laws for his contribution not only to Tanzania but also to the world. 

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