The Nation Media Group has paid tribute to Tanzania’s former President Benjamin Mkapa, describing him as an African statesman who promoted peace and stability in the region. Tanzanian President John Magufuli announced earlier on Friday that Mr Mkapa had died aged 81.
NMG Group chair Wilfred Kiboro, on behalf of the Board of Directors and the company’s subsidiary in Tanzania, Mwananchi Communications Limited, said Mr Mkapa’s death came “at a time when the entire world, and Tanzania in particular, is grappling with cataclysms beyond our apprehension”.
Dr Kiboro said Mr Mkapa achieved a lot in Tanzania and the East African region, including championing the re-establishment, in 2000, of the East African Community, alongside the late Daniel arap Moi of Kenya and Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni.
Mr Mkapa led Tanzania for 10 years, between 1995 and 2005, and was also chair of the ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi. Dr Kiboro pointed out that it was Mr Mkapa who invited NMG to set up shop in Tanzania. The company, through Dar es Salaam-based Mwananchi Communications Limited, publishes three newspapers in Tanzania; the English-language The Citizen, its Kiswahili version Mwananchi, and sports title Mwanaspoti.
Mr Mkapa was himself an accomplished journalist. “It was during his leadership when the journalism profession was elevated, and for the first time, Tanzania started offering degree courses in the journalism field,” said Dr Kiboro. “This prompted the founding of several private universities and also led to a rise in the number of public universities in the country.”
Away from the political front and his mediation efforts in Kenya, South Sudan, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr Mkapa also promoted the private sector “by creating an environment which allowed for business prosperity”, added Dr Kiboro.
Written by: Bernard Mwinzi