Tanzania’s former president Benjamin Mkapa who served as the third Head of State of the East African nation has died; President John Magufuli has announced in a televised broadcast from Chamwino State House in Dodoma.Mkapa, a regional peacemaker led Tanzania for 10 years between 1995 and 2005 and has died at 81 in a Dar es Salaam hospital.
In his brief address, President Magufuli has referred to Mkapa’s death as a great loss to Tanzania.‘’I am saddened by the death of Benjamin Mkapa, the third President of Tanzania, I will remember him for his dedication to the nation and the growth of the economy,’’ Magufuli said.
President Magufuli has already declared a seven-day mourning period with flags flying at half-mast.Mkapa was last seen publicly in high spirits on July 11, 2020, during Chama Cha Mapinduzi National Congress in Tanzania’s capital Dodoma where President Magufuli who was also present was fronted as the party’s flagbearer in the coming elections. Former presidents Jakaya Kikwete and Ali Hassan Mwinyi also attended the meeting.
The former Head of State will be remembered as an indefatigable peacemaker in the East African region and Africa. He was involved in different peace processes.
When Kenya was on the brink of the precipice after a controversial Presidential election in 2007, Mkapa helped Kenya broker a peace deal that culminated to the formation of a coalition government together with other imminent African figures.
Kenyans will remember Mkapa for his instrumental role, as one of the eminent persons together with former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Graca Machel, in mediating talks between Raila Odinga’s ODM and Mwai Kibaki’s PNU after the country erupted in violence following the disputed 2007 elections.
It was through their tireless efforts that the parties signed the National Accord in 2008 saving the country from sliding into further anarchy after three months of violence after Raila-led ODM rejected Kibaki’s presidential victory with violence flaring up in the Rift Valley, Nyanza and Mombasa.
Mkapa, serving as a Foreign Affairs Minister between 1977 and 1980, also played a key role in encouraging the United Nations sanctions against apartheid South Africa as a punishment for its occupation of Namibia.
Continental leaders have eulogised him as a son of Africa, a public servant with a great legacy of public service and integrity.