President Yoweri Museveni has Monday paid his last respects to Tanzania’s deceased leader John Pombe Magufuli who succumbed to heart complications last week.
Accompanied by First Lady, Janet Museveni, the President visited the Tanzanian High Commission in Kampala where he also signed the official condolence book after which he revealed that he had two weeks ago written a letter to the former president about the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) project.
“What I wrote in the book here is that two weeks ago, I had written to H.E Magufuli about the pipeline. This was because today 22nd of March was supposed to be the signing of the tripartite between Uganda, Tanzania and Total in Entebbe,” the President said.
“In a letter, I had jokingly written that today will be a double victory day because about 42 years ago, yesterday 21st of March, the Tanzania People’s Defense Forces together with our freedom fighters, defeated the army of Idi Amin in their counterattack on the town of Mbarara at a place called Rugando, 12 miles away from Mbarara on the Kabale road. So, the double victory I meant was both political and the economy, little did I know that I will be here signing in a condolence book. This is so sad and so unexpected ..” added the President.
The two Presidents last year signed an implementation agreement for the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline project, a 1,445KM pipeline that will transport crude oil from Uganda’s oil fields in Hoima, to the Port of Tanga on the Indian Ocean.
Magufuli described the event as liberation for the two countries. He said, “This pipeline project is another great liberation for us. After the defeat of Idi Amin in Kagera, this pipeline project is a second victory for Uganda and Tanzania.”
Uganda is the only country the late Magufuli visited more than once in his time as President. He loved the Pearl of Africa and its people.
When President Museveni received information of Magufuli’s death, he used eulogised him as “a pragmatic leader who worked for the economic empowerment of East Africans.”
The President has since directed that all flags fly at half-mast and declared 14 days of mourning in honour of the deceased President. In his proclamation, Museveni described Magufuli as a friend of Uganda and one who strived for the region’s economic integration.
“President Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli, a true friend of Uganda, a committed champion of East African economic integration and advancement, and of African sovereignty and dignity. His candid stand on many issues of both Tanzanian and African interests and values, was always energizing. It is indeed a great loss for all advocates of African resilience and independence of thought and action,” wrote the President.
Meanwhile, residents of Dar es Salaam yestersay bid farewell to the ex-president. The same has happened today in Dodoma. Mwanza will be the next on Wednesday before he is moved to his ancestral home in Chato where he will be laid to rest.