Mwanza/Chato. It is hard now to imagine Mlimani Village in Chato District and the entire district without the beloved son of the area, John Magufuli, who died on Wednesday.
Before the 2015 General Election, the village was a sleepy place just like most other villages in Tanzania before it became famous when Dr Magufuli was elected President n the polls.
The village, which has enjoyed several opportunities politically, economically and administration-wise, is the homeplace of Dr Magufuli.
In the first five-year term of the Fifth Phase Government under President John Magufuli, there were several development projects that were implemented in Chato District, which is part of Geita Region.
The completed construction of Chato airport, zonal referral hospital, training college (Veta), improved Kasenda sardines market, stadium, bus terminal, business stalls for entrepreneurs and livestock auctions are among the implemented and under implementation projects in Chato District.
During the period, the district has also seen the purchase and expansion construction of Chato and Rubondo pontoons respectively without forgetting the establishment of the Burigi-Chato National Park and Silayo Tree Farm.
National and international visits
The village was also lucky to be visited by several national and international leaders, who held talks with the President, who went there on short leaves.
Their visits to the village also helped boost the incomes of the residents, who carried out various business activities to also increase money circulation.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who was in Chato on January 7, 2021, was among the international leaders, who visited Mlimani Village, where a state lodge of Chato is located. Wang Yi paid a two-day visit to the village, where he had the opportunity of taking part in several activities including opening Chato’s expert workmanship college.
The Chinese Minister also promised that his country would help Tanzania to get skilled trainees from the college so to attain its development goal of industrialization by 2025.
China also promised to provide Sh350 million as financial assistance to the college.
Wang Yi also witnessed the signing of a construction contract for the 341km section of Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Mwanza to Isaka, being implemented by two Chinese firms at a cost of over Sh3.067 trillion.
Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi also visited Mlimani Village on January 11, 2021 and met President Magufuli, whose guest had the opportunity of laying the foundation stone for Chato Zonal Referral Hospital that will, upon its completion, serve more than 14 million people from Tabora, Kagera, Shinyanga Kigoma, Mwanza, Rukwa and Geita regions.
Ethiopian President Sahle -Work Zewde also visited Chato on January 25, this year, and promised that his country would cooperate with Tanzania in terms of business and investment while Tanzania would teach the Kiswahili language at Addis Ababa University.
On January 14, Chato was also visited by national leaders who were Zanzibar president Dr Hussein Mwinyi and his first Vice President, Seif Sharif Hamad, who held talks with President Magufuli.
Mzee Elias Kaswahili, one of the schoolmates of President Magufuli, is one of the residents of Chato, who are in deep sorrow after hearing the death of Dr Magufuli.
“The death of Magufuli is a big blow to residents of Chato. His shoes will not fit anybody. What we need to do now as residents of Chato is to pray for him to God to give us peace,” said Mzee Kaswahili, who has known Dr Magufuli since 1964 when they were studying at Chato Primary School.
Mzee Kaswahili and Dr Magufuli also schooled together at Lake Secondary School in Mwanza Region.
“While at Lake Secondary School, Magufuli managed to unite African students and those of Asian origin, who earlier did not mingle,” remembers Mzee Kaswahili, who is one of the residents of Chato, who convinced Dr Magufuli to vie for a parliamentary seat in 1995
Living in Chato without Magufuli
Samuel Bigambo, chairman of the council of elders of Chato and one of close friends of the late President Magufuli, says the latter was the defender of elders, who met him and solved their problems when he returned home.
Following the death of Dr Magufuli, Mzee Bigambo asked government leaders, particularly his successor, to honour him by developing all projects and development plans in Chato.
A Bodaboda operator in Chato. Emanuel John, says the death of President Magufuli has made many people be in deep sorrow and has shattered the hopes of residents of Chato, who are worried about development projects launched by Dr Magufuli to stall.
“We leave all this to God who knows what happens next. As residents of Chato, we will forever remember Dr Magufuli for what he did for us since he was an MP to president,” said John.