Benjamin Mkapa, Tanzania’s former president, 81, has died early this morning at a hospital in Dar es Salam, as announced by President John Pombe Magufulu.
While relaying the news on Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) July 24, President John Pombe Magufuli said Hon. Mkapa died at Dar es Salaam Hospital where he was admitted. He further urged Tanzanians to remain strong and peaceful during these trying times.
“I call on all Tanzanians to receive the news of his death and to pray for Mzee Mkapa. More information will be released but Mzee Mkapa is no more,” The president said in a brief television statement.
The president also declared a national seven-day mourning in which all the country’s flag will be raised at half-mast in respect of the fallen leader.
Hon. Mkapa was the third president of Tanzania, he led Tanzania from 1995 to 2005 before handing over to Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete who succeeded him.
Benjamin Mkapa’s early life
Mkapa was born in lupaso, near Masasi, Tanganyika, on 12 November 1938. He graduated from Makerere University in Uganda in 1962 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He went on to study at Columbia University the following year, and earned a master’s degree in international affairs.
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Previous posts include being an administrative officer in Dodoma and the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education. Mkapa was the head of the Tanzanian mission to Canada in 1982 and to the United States in 1983–84. He was the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1977 to 1980 and again from 1984 to 1990.
Benjamin Mkapa’s presidency
In 1995, Mkapa was elected as president based on a popular anti-corruption campaign and the strong support of former president Julius Nyerere. Mkapa’s anti-corruption efforts included creation of an open forum called the Presidential Commission on Corruption (Warioba Commission) and increased support for the Prevention of Corruption Bureau. His second five-year term of office as president ended in December 2005. During this term in office, Mkapa privatized state-owned corporations and instituted free market policies. His supporters argued that attracting foreign investment would promote economic growth. His policies won the support of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and resulted in the cancellation of some of Tanzania’s foreign debts.
He was criticized for some ineffectiveness of his anti-corruption efforts as well as for his lavish spending. He spent £15 million on a private presidential jet, as well as almost £30 million on military aviation equipment from BAE Systems, which experts deemed beyond the limited needs of the country’s armed forces. It was over the latter purchase that British International Development Secretary Clare Short expressed public outrage, resulting in her becoming known as ‘Mama Radar’ in the Tanzanian press.
Having left office due to a two-term limit, Mkapa was dogged by many accusations of corruption, among them improperly appropriating to himself and his former finance Minister Daniel Yona the lucrative Kiwira coal mine in the southern highlands of Tanzania without following lawful procedures. For privatizing the mine to himself, he was accused of a breach of the Tanzanian constitution, which does not allow a president to do business at the state house.
Mkapa served as a trustee of the Aga Khan University from 2007 to 2012. also he was a society image.
Hon. Benjamin Mkapa played a key role in the region’s mediation process. He was part of the Koffi Anan’s team that saw Kenya come into peace during the 2007-2008 post-election violence.
At the time of his death, he was a minister and significant figure for the ruling party CCM.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.
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