African leaders on Monday gathered in the Tanzanian capital of Dodoma to pay their last respects to former President John Magufuli who died last week, describing him as a true and dedicated son of Africa.

Magufuli, 61, died in office from a heart condition on March 17 in the country’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

In their eulogies to the late President Magufuli at a state funeral at Jamhuri Stadium in the capital Dodoma, the leaders said Magufuli was a fighter and patriot not only for Tanzania but for the entire African continent.

President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said Magufuli was a no-nonsense leader when it came to fighting corruption.

The death of Magufuli has robbed Africa of a fighter and patriot. His death has affected the entire African continent, said Tshisekedi, who doubles as chairperson of the African Union.

The DRC leader urged Tanzanians to continue cherishing what President Magufuli had stood for, adding: “President Magufuli wished to see African development overseen by Africans for the benefit of Africans.”

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, also chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said the southern African regional bloc has lost a brave and hard working leader.

Nyusi said Magufuli, the former SADC chairperson, looked forward to seeing a southern African region that was free from dependence from foreign countries.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, chairman of the East African Community (EAC), said Magufuli has taught African leaders that the continent with its abundant resources was well placed to stop its dependence on foreign aid.

“During his lifetime President Magufuli and I exchanged ideas on several occasions on how to improve the EAC and the African Union,” said Kenyatta.

Kenyatta told President Hassan that the late Magufuli had shown her the road ahead and urged Tanzanians to rally behind her in efforts aimed at making the country prosperous.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Africa has lost a true Pan-Africanist, who preferred to stay in his country serving his people instead of spending his time traveling around the world.

“The late President Magufuli was forthright, fearless and transformational,” said Zambian President Edgar Lungu.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa of Zimbabwe said Magufuli was passionate about the development of his people, adding that Magufuli was also unwavering on matters of principle.

“He gave his life for the service of his people and Africa in general,” said Mnangagwa as other tributes poured in from Comoros, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.

In her remarks, President Hassan assured Tanzanians that the country is in good hands.

“Let us continue from where the late President Magufuli stopped. Let us cooperate and unite,” she said.

She said people should not doubt about her presidency because she was a woman. “I am standing here as the president,” said President Hassan to a thunderous applause from her audience.

Magufuli will be buried in his native home in Chato district of Geita region on March 26.

The late president was born in Chato, Geita region, on Oct. 29, 1959. He was elected the president of Tanzania in October 2015, and was re-elected in October 2020. Source: CGTN