President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the late Tanzanian President, John Pombe Magufuli, as a respected leader and champion of African development. In his tribute, President Ramaphosa said President Magufuli’s passing has been felt across the region and the continent.
“The family of nations of Africa are today mourning the passing of one of their own, an esteemed leader of his people and a tireless champion of the cause of African progress,” he said during his tribute at the Official State Funeral on Monday.
President Ramaphosa jetted off to Dodoma, the national capital of Tanzania, to attend the funeral.
President Magufuli passed away on Wednesday, 17 March 2021, in a Dar es Salaam hospital. He was 61.
“On behalf of the government and people of South Africa, please accept our deepest sympathies and condolences,” said the President.
President Ramaphosa recalled over a year-and-a-half ago, when he visited Dodoma at the invitation of President Magufuli for a State visit and to attend the 39th Southern African Development Community (SADC) Summit.
“I recall the warmth with which we were received, and the determination of President Magufuli to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between our two countries,” he said.
According to the First Citizen, this was when President Magufuli outlined his vision for the development of Tanzania, the region and the continent.
“As we lay our dear brother to rest, we should resolve to pursue that vision, to build an Africa of peace, justice, progress and inclusive prosperity.
“As South Africans, we will forever regard Tanzania as our home away from home.”
Shifting to his focus to the darkest moments of the struggle against apartheid, President Ramaphosa said Tanzania gave South Africans shelter, sustenance and support.
“We owe so much of our freedom to the generosity and the sacrifices of the people of Tanzania. It is this shared past that makes us, as South Africans, feel the loss of President Magufuli all the more deeply and all the more personally.”
The President said the East African country has lost a father and brother, while Africa has lost a visionary leader, and South Africa a dear friend.
“May the people of this wonderful land find peace and comfort in the difficult days ahead. May the legacy of John Pombe Magufuli live on,” said President Ramaphosa.