Malawi Thursday joined the rest of the world in mourning former president of the United Republic of Tanzania John Pombe Magufuli.
Magufuli died at a hospital in Tanzania Wednesday evening after battling with heart problems, according to that country’s government officials.
He won his second term of office in October last year.
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said he was shocked with the death of Magufuli.
“My deepest condolences go to his family and to the people of Tanzania with whom we share a border and common heritage. President Magufuli was a towering symbol of Africa’s economic resurgence and his passing is an incalculable loss to the continent.
“Toward that end, the Government of Malawi stands ready to render any support needed by the Government of Tanzania in the aftermath of Magufuli’s passing,” Chakwera said.
Namibia’s President Hage Geingob was equally shocked: “Tanzania has lost a patriot and Namibia has lost a dear brother. Namibia joins the fraternal people of Tanzania in mourning the death of my dear brother, President John Magufuli.”
African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat said “Africa has lost a champion of regional cooperation in the East African region and a committed pan-Africanist leader”.
The United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a tweet: “I’m sorry to hear that John Pombe Magufuli, President of Tanzania, has passed away.”
Meanwhile, Information Minister Gospel Kazako has said government officials were in touch with the Tanzanian government on funeral and burial arrangements of the former president.
“When we get all the information, we will then see how we will come in and whether President Chakwera will attend the funeral. This was not a relationship of the two presidents only but also of the two countries; so, whatever happens, we will come and inform the nation,” he said.
Kazako said Magufuli had a shared vision for the two countries and the African continent with Chakwera.
He said Magufuli made it clear that Malawi would always benefit from Tanzania’s endowments, including access to the sea.
“We have Malawians who go and do their businesses in Tanzania and we have people in Tanzania who come and do their businesses here in Malawi,” he said.
Magufuli, who was the fifth president of Tanzania, having ascended to power in 2015, was born on October 29 1959.
Chancellor College political analyst Mustapha Hussein said Malawi had lost a friend and good neighbour in the passing of Magufuli.
“His policies were accommodating. He showed willingness to work together with Malawi on matters of trade and opening up the corridor. There was also a lesson in how he developed the country, in terms of infrastructure, management of the civil service and dealing with corruption,” he said.