President Lazarus Chakwera yesterday joined local leaders and an activist in paying tribute to Tanzanian President John Magufuli who succumbed to a “heart complication” on Wednesday after a prolonged absence from his office and public space.
Reacting to the news, Chakwera, who met Magufuli in Tanzania during a State Visit last year, hailed the Tanzanian leader for his contribution to Africa’s “economic resurgence”.
He said his death is an “incalculable loss to the African continent”.
In a statement, Chakwera said: “As Malawi joins Tanzania in mourning the loss over the next 14 days, we pray for uncommon strength and fortitude for the people of Tanzania and their government as they forge together in the spirit of unity in a manner that maintains peace and stability.
“Towards that end, the Government of Malawi stands ready to render any support needed by the Government of Tanzania in the aftermath of President Magufuli’s passing.”
Concurring with Chakwera, Vice-President Saulos Chilima said in a statement: “The beacon of hope for a renaissance in African patriotism and self-determination departs to be with the Lord.”
Former president Peter Mutharika also said in a statement posted on his official Facebook page: “I am saddened to hear of the demise of my brother Dr John Pombe Magufuli, who until his death was the State President of Tanzania. Africa has lost a true son and a man of integrity.”
On his part, Malawi Watch executive director Billy Banda said Malawians will remember the fallen Tanzanian leader for his role in promoting trade and cultural relations between Malawi and Tanzania.
Magufuli, 61, established a strong rapport with Chakwera following a meeting between the two in Tanzania last October.
During the meeting, Magufuli pledged to improve the road and transport infrastructure connecting Malawi to the strategic ports in Dar es Salaam and Mtwara to facilitate trade between the two countries.
Some of his landmark projects included a bus terminal in Dar es Salaam, which is expected to provide transit to Malawi, as well as increasing the capacity of the Mtwara Port to accommodate traders from Malawi and surrounding countries.
Popularly known as the Bulldozer among his supporters for his tough stance against corruption and his hardline policies, Magufuli came to power in 2015 on the Chama Cha Mapinduzi party ticket succeeding Jakaya Kikwete.
In October 2020, Magufuli retained his seat after defeating Chadema party torchbearer Tundu Lissu