Sr. Jecinter Antoinette Okoth, FSSA
Following the death of President of the United Republic of Tanzania his Excellency John Pombe Magufuli which occurred on Wednesday, March 17, at Mzena Hospital in the country’s capital, Dar es Salaam, the Bishops of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) region has expressed solidarity with the bishops in Tanzania for the loss of a leader whom they describe as “visionary.”
In a statement signed on behalf of the bishops in the region, AMECEA Chairman Rt. Rev. Charles Kasonde said, “I write to express sadness and shock on the passing on of President John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, the fifth Head of State of the United Republic of Tanzania on March 17, 2021.”
He noted that President Magufuli was not only a leader for Tanzania but for the entire region saying, “Beyond your country, this news has shocked the entire region which has lost a transformative leader whose presidency was characterized by zero-tolerance to corruption and socio-economic development.”
Highlighting that President Magufuli was a Catholic and a man of the people, the Thursday, March 18, statement reads further, “As bishops of AMECEA, we were proud to have a Catholic political leader who stood out as a man for the poor through his visionary and socio-economic agenda.”
“In fact, we were looking forward to his joining us next year when we shall gather for the 20th AMECEA Plenary,’ the chairman disclosed pointing out the bishops’ assembly that is anticipated to take place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania come 2022.
While accepting God’s will that the assembly will no longer find President Magufuli alive, the Chairman who is the Local Ordinary of Zambia’s Zolwezi diocese expressed consoling message from the words of Prophet Isaiah saying, “but as God said… ‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways’.”
The bishops further expressed condolences to the Church in Tanzania, the people and the family of the late President promising their unity and prayer for the repose of Magufuli’s soul, for his family and for the country.
Meanwhile in unison with AMECEA bishops, the Local Ordinary of Tombura Yambio Diocese in South Sudan, Rt. Rev. Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala has sent condolences message to Tanzania through a video clip published Thursday, March 18, saying that President Magufuli has been greatly admired in his way of leadership.
“He has been one of the best admired African leaders of our time and will be remembered forever,” the Bishop said adding that his leadership style could be seen in “his conviction to stabilize Tanzania, his ability to hold his county together, his faith and trust in God and in his care for his people and continent.”
He has urged the people of Tanzania to follow his legacy and “build the country in which they will continue to be proud of “(and) “to build a country where they will put the people first before themselves and their interests.”
After the death of President Magufuli, the United Republic of Tanzania has on Friday, March 19, sworn in the Vice President Samia Hassan Saluhu as Tanzania’s President and she will serve the remainder of the late President Magufuli’s second term in office until 2025.
Meanwhile, Tanzania is in a 21-day nationwide mourning period from Thursday, March 18, following the death of President Magufuli, where all flags will fly at half-mast.
President Magufuli is the first to die in office in the country and will be given a state funeral on Thursday, March 25, at his Chato home in Geita, north-western part of Tanzania.