EABC: Mahiga’s death a blow to integration efforts

Arusha. The East African Business Council (EABC) has mourned the death of Cabinet minister Augustine Mahiga, saying he strongly advocated development of the private sector.

His death was not only a blow to the business community in East Africa, but also to regional integration efforts, the apex body of private sector associations and corporates said yesterday.

“Words cannot express enough this tragic loss. He was an iconic,brilliant diplomatic who supported the private sector as an engine of growth” said EABC executive director Peter Mathuki.

Mahiga - who passed away on May Day in Dodoma, and was buried in Iringa on Saturday - previously served as the minister for Foreign Affairs and EA Cooperation from late 2015.

Early last year he was appointed the minister for Constitutional and Legal Affairs, a position he held until his demise in Dodoma.

“It is our duty to follow his passion and vision of a borderless East Africa Community for the prosperity of the East African citizens”, Dr Mathuki said in a statement sent to the Tanzania government.

Mahiga was one of the high profile leaders and retired politicians to pass away in recent weeks and the third MP in a row.

The lawmakers who died were the MP for Sumve in Mwnza Region Richard Ndassa and Special Seats MP Gertrude Rwakatare (CCM).

Upon taking over the EAC Affairs docket, Mahiga’s first event on regional issues was an address to an event in March 2016 during which he blamed corruption for stifling the flow of investments into the region.

Corruption, he said during an event organised by EABC, was also an obstacle to the development of the business sector and urged EAC partner states to take corrective action on the menace.

The death of the former President of the African Court of Human and People’s Rights (AfCHPR), Retired Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani, also touched raw nerves among the regional bodies based in Arusha.

The African Court Coalition, which works in partnership with the Arusha-based judicial organ, said it would remember the late Judge “for his remarkable professional ethics and support for human rights”.

A prominent local lawyer, Mr Tom Bahame, said the late judge once lamented the long incarceration of remand prisoners beyond capacity of the facilities, citing those facing economic crimes charges as examples.

“You could hear his anguish at how unjust the system is - and, yet ,he could not help it from his side of the legal system”, he said in his message to the African Court.

Justice Sylvain Ore, who succeeded him in 2016, said the Judges of the Court unanimously elected the late Judge Ramadhani President of AfCHPR for his devotion and hard work “and putting the interests of the Court above his personal interests”.