The Thabo Mbeki Foundation and our Patron, President Thabo Mbeki, learnt with deep sadness news of the passing of the former President of Tanzania, Benjamin William Mkapa, earlier today. We extend our deepest condolences to the Mkapa family, H.E. President John Magufuli and through him to the sister people of Tanzania and Ben Mkapa’s organization, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). 

President Mkapa, like Mwalimu Julius Nyerere before him, was an embodiment of the Tanzanian people’s dedication and commitment to the liberation and development of our continent. It was this dedication and commitment to rid our continent of colonialism and apartheid which enabled Tanzania and her people to serve as the Mecca of the liberation movements in Southern Africa, including the ANC. 

Thus, for many decades President Mkapa served as a foot soldier to give meaning to the cause of African liberation and development. It was due to this political upbringing, in which Mwalimu Nyerere played no small role, that throughout his life as a political activist, he remained true to the principles of peace, self-reliance, good governance, pan-Africanism and the transformation of the lives of the people of Tanzania and Africa for the better.

During his lifetime he served in many important positions. Though still young, he became editor of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) newspapers, “The Nationalist” and “Uhuru”. His diplomatic responsibilities included ambassadorships in Canada, the United States, and Nigeria. Later he was appointed to the position of Foreign Minister. Finally, he served as the third President of the United Republic of Tanzania, succeeding President Hassan Mwinyi. 

His practical dedication and commitment to the achievement of the progressive transformation of Tanzania and the unity and renaissance of Africa further informed his activities after his retirement from government. In this context, he remained engrossed with matters of peace and development of our continent and through the Benjamin Mkapa Foundation focused sharply on improving health care in Tanzania. 

President Mkapa’s passing is an immense loss to our continent at a time when we needed his wisdom to help our continent think through the solutions to the intractable challenges we face, which have been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

As he rests, we will pick up the spear from where he dropped it and help to promote the achievement of the noble objectives to which he dedicated his life and work. 

May his soul rest in eternal peace! 

Issued by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation

24 July 2020