Minister Mahiga, ex-CJ Ramadhani laid to rest

Rustica Mahiga Sister of the late Dr. Augustino Maiga putting a flower in his brother's grave buried in Tosamaganga village, Iringa yesterday. PHOTO|SAID NGAMILO

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania’s two prominent leaders were yesterday laid to rest in Iringa and Dar es Salaam.

Dr Augustine Mahiga who until his passing on Friday was the Constitutional and Legal Affairs Minister, was buried in his home village of Tosamaganga in Iringa, at a farewell attended by Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Separately, retired Chief Justice Augustino Ramadhani was buried in Dar es Salaam. The minister for Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi led other dignitaries at the funeral.

Giving her message of condolence, Ms Suluhu said the nation had suffered a great blow in the death of one of its most experienced diplomat and minister. “The government has lost someone who has been a great contributor and patriot. As a member of the cabinet, he was always a good mentor in strengthening Tanzania’s cooperation with the international community ... we will miss him terribly,” said Ms Suluhu.

For her part, deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Tulia Ackson said that Dr Mahiga has left a gap that will be difficult to fill in the Parliament and outside.

“We knew him as a man of great ability, great thoughts, and great intelligence ... he was a man who helped us a lot and all MPs recognised his contribution and good advice. We need to learn from his legacy, especially his humility,” said Dr Ackson.

Dr Mahiga who served Tanzania for many years in the diplomatic and security circles died after a short illness. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a Dodoma hospital where he was rushed. He was the third MP to die under two weeks in i ncidents that have sparked fears and speculations.

About the late Augustine Mahiga

Dr Mahiga’s death drew in tributes from far and wide.

Dr Mahiga who previously served as the permanent representative of Tanzania to the United Nations from 2003 to 2010 and as the UN Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Political Office for Somalia from 2010 to 2013, was a global figure.

President Magufuli described him as hardworking, a patriot with integrity and an outstanding diplomat, who represented and fought for the country’s interests in the international arena for many years.

In December 2015, Dr Mahiga was nominated as a member of parliament and appointed to the cabinet as minister of foreign affairs.

High profile leaders from government, East African region, international organisations, diplomatic community and leaders of political parties locally and globally sent messages of condolences to the grieving family, the parliament and the ministry of Constitutional Affairs where Dr Mahiga served until the time of his death.

In Dar es Salaam, addressing mourners who gathered to give farewell to retired Judge Ramadhani, Prof Kabudi said the deceased was a great law practitioner locally and internationally.

“You can’t talk about the success of Zanzibar and the Zanzibar revolution without talking about Augustino Ramadhani who at the age of 33 was elected chief justice of Zanzibar and made major changes to the Zanzibar law system,” said Prof Kabudi.

He said the country was mourning a great and successful leader in various sectors such as law and religion.

About retired Judge Ramadhani

A former Brigadier General, judge and reverend, the ex-Chief Justice passed away on April 28.

Ramadhani who was in his 70s when he died, had a very unusual combination of being a jurist, senior army officer, pianist, pastor and a Christian from the Muslim-majority islands of Zanzibar.

He died at the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam where he was hospitalised for treatment of long illness.

As well as being a retired CJ, he rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the Tanzania People’s Defense Force, and was also an Anglican priest and president of the African Court of Human and People’s Rights.

President Magufuli mourned the late judge describing him as a man who served his country diligently and with integrity.

In 2010, Ramadhan led a panel of seven judges in rejecting a petition that sought the lifting of the ban on independent candidates.

He also served as the judge of the East African Court of Justice from 2001 to 2007.

In 2012, he chaired the tribunal formed to investigate the conduct of Kenya’s Deputy Chief Justice, Ms Nancy Baraza. He was later named by the then president Jakaya Kikwete as vice-chairman of the 30-member Constitutional Review Commission.

In 2015, he declared his candidacy for president of the United Republic of Tanzania, joining more than 30 other candidates from the ruling CCM in the race to succeed Mr Jakaya Kikwete, who was completing his second and final five-year term. He did not make it to the final list of five top contestants among whom President Magufuli emerged to win the subsequent General Election.