LIVE: President Magufuli's state burial underway in Chato

Friday March 26 2021
By Louis Kalumbia
By Jacob Mosenda

Chato. Former President John Magufuli will be buried today in his hometown of Chato in Geita Region.

Dr Magufuli will be laid to rest after several days of paying last respects that saw to Chato residents being overwhelmed by grief when it was their turn to bid farewell to the departed leader yesterday.

Actual burial will take place after prayers that will be attended by between five and ten bishops, according to the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Ms Jenista Mhagama.

Members of Dr Magufuli’s family are expected to take the body to their church for final prayers and last respects early in the morning tomorrow, Ms Mhagama said.

“People are advised to arrive at the Magufuli Stadium as early as 6am. At around 7.30am, we expect leaders to start arriving at the stadium - and the last to do so will be President Samia Suluhu Hassan,” said Ms Mhagama.

It is expected that the family will have completed its procedures and bring the body of Dr Magufuli to the stadium as soon as President Hassan arrives so that she can receive the body, ready for the final mass that will be attended by between five and ten bishops.


After the stadium programme, the body will be taken to the burial place which, according to Ms Mhagama, can only accommodate a maximum of 600 people at the most.

Yesterday’s farewell to Dr Magufuli was special, considering the fact that the departed leader was a son of Chato who rose to become President of Tanzania.

The body of Dr Magufuli, who died on March 17, 2021 of heart complications, will be laid to rest today, concluding a week-long exercise of bidding farewell to the fallen leader that had been conducted in Dar es Salaam, Dodoma, Zanzibar, Mwanza and Chato.

Security was beefed up inside and outside the Magufuli Stadium in Chato yesterday as thousands of children, youths and the elderly flocked the place to pay their last respects to one of their own.

The Second Vice President of Zanzibar, Hemed Suleiman Abdulla, led thousands of Geita Region residents in bidding farewell to the body of the late Dr Magufuli and demanded that the leader be remembered for the work he left behind.

“We will not do as we did in Dodoma and Mwanza. Here, everyone must go and see the face of the late Dr Magufuli in the uniqueness of this area for the departed leader… Everyone will have the opportunity - even if it has to arrive at 11pm,” Mr Abdulla announced.

However - unlike other places where the body passed - the locals at Chato seemed to follow a well-organized procedure without any hastle thus indicating a more respectful character on this last day for people to see Dr Magufuli in our world.

Authorities in Geita Region were considering turning Chato into a tourism attraction that will be visited by different types of people including those aspiring for leadership positions locally and abroad.

Residents wanted leaders to follow in the footsteps and foundations left behind by PresidentMagufuli who died at the Mzena Hospital in Dar es Salaam on March 17, 2021 from heart complications.

Leaders and citizens spoke to The Citizen yesterday at the Magufuli Stadium during the bidding of farewell to the late fifth President, Dr Magufuli, ahead of his burial today.

Geita Regional Commissioner Robert Gabriel said the region was considering to turn Chato into a place where people from all corners of the world can learn various issues, including leadership, based on Dr Magufuli’s beliefs in bringing about people-centred development.

“Dr Magufuli wasn’t a fourth-rate leader; he was a respected leader across the world. We will organize ourselves to ensure nothing good about our hero goes missing,” he said.

“We will hanour his efforts to bring about development, revolution, hard working and everything he taught those who closely worked under his leadership.”

He said Dr Magufuli will be remembered by residents of the region for spearheading amendments of the mining laws that has enabled Tanzanians to inherit and benefit from the minerals sector.

“He provided artisanal miners ownership of mining blocks that increased their benefits from the sector and showed the people of Geita Region how to benefit from their minerals wealth,” he said.

“The region, in collaboration with the responsible ministry will step up measures that will develop the sector, considering that the largest Gold Market in the continent is located in the region.

According to him, Geita minerals market brings in Sh2 billion per day. Mr Gabriel was echoed by Geita Constituency lawmaker Constantine Kanyasu who said Dr Magufuli championed major changes in the country’s mining laws. Mining is main means of economic growth for residents in the region.

“Despite his demise, Dr Magufuli has left foundations at the ministerial and the central government levels.

“Hopefully, they will continue to tighten the noose and prevent mineral smuggling for the benefit of the country and citizens at large,” he said.

Since the laws were still existing and leaders were still working, he was optimistic that enforcement of the mineral laws will not change, hence better protection of the country’s mineral wealth.

According to him, Dr Magufuli will be remembered for putting emphasis on accountability of public expenditure and proper supervision of government projects.

A shoe shiner who was frequently visited by the fallen president, Mr Joseph Ngali, said leaders should follow the footsteps and the foundation laid by the ex-president.

“Tanzanians should support the new President, Mama Samia Suluhu Hassan, and the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, who were close aides of Dr Magufuli. They know the secret of achievement recorded by the late President in meeting the expectations of Tanzanians,” he said.

He said Dr Magufuli would be remembered for rehabilitating the school in Chato, building a zone hospital, introducing a Vocational Education and Training Authority (Veta) College as well as introducing the Small Industries Development Organization (Sido) which was not there in the past.

According to him, Dr Magufuli paid his last visit at his workplace in January this year where he cautioned the public to protect themselves against the viral Covid-19 pandemic by abiding with preventive measures as provided by health experts.

“Probably, his visit aimed to bid farewell to all his friends without knowing that he was going to die in the next few months,” he said sorrowfully.

Preaching at the Saint Mary the Virgin here during a Mass to pray for the fallen leader, Rulenge-Ngara Diocese Bishop Severine Niwemugizi said the fallen leader instructed the Immigration Department to return his passport that was seized since 2017 when investigation on his citizenship was launched.

“He instructed the immigration commissioner general to return the travel document on grounds that being a cleric I will one day preside over his burial,” he said.

Clarifying his statement, Bishop Niwemugizi said he responded to the Head of State that nobody knows time and date therefore each of them could die first, therefore Tanzanians should be prepared for death.

Ms Elizabeth Ngassa, a special seats councillor in Bukombe District said Tanzanians should honour, Dr Magufuli by working hard and look at Chato as a special area for the country that shouldn’t be abandoned.

For his part, Mr Bitron Kafuruki said the government should consider at making Chato a region, saying that was a dream of former President Magufuli.

Ms Fatma Abdallah said President Samia Suluhu Hassan should focus at building the country, strengthen economy and increase the country’s self-reliance in implementing development projects.