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Former Tanzania President Benjamin Mkapa Dies

Benjamin Mkapa, former president of Tanzania, is dead.

He was 81.

Mkapa’s death was announced by President John Pombe Magufuli on Thursday night.

Magufuli said Mkapa passed away at a hospital in Dar es Salaam where the former leader had earlier been admitted.

“The nation has lost a great man,” said Magufuli.

Mkapa was born in 1938 in Ndanda, near Masasi in southern Tanganyika.

He graduated from Makerere University in Uganda in 1962 with a degree in English.

He also attended Columbia University in 1963 and was awarded a master’s degree in international affairs.

Previous posts include being an administrative officer in Dodoma and the Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education.

He also had the chance to lead the Tanzanian mission to Canada in the year 1982 and to the United States Of America from 1983 to 1984.

He was the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1977 to 1980 and again from 1984 to 1990.

In public speeches, Mkapa as Foreign Minister between 1977 and 1980, played a key role in encouraging UN sanctions against apartheid South Africa, as a punishment for its occupation of Namibia.

A video released on Twitter by Derek Peterson shows Mkapa strongly advocating for the liberation of colonized countries.

Mkapa also helped to broker Zimbabwe’s independence, advocating for the nationalists at a time when the Americans and the Brits wanted a negotiated settlement with Ian Smith’s Rhodesians.

In 1995, Mkapa was elected as President based on a popular anti-corruption campaign and the strong support of former president Julius Nyerere.

Mkapa’s second five-year term of office as President ended in December 2005. During this term in office, Mkapa privatized state-owned corporations and instituted free market policies.

His supporters argued that attracting foreign investment would promote economic growth. His policies won the support of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and resulted in the cancellation of some of Tanzania’s foreign debts.

In his retirement, Mkapa facilitated the Inter-Burundi dialogue aimed at restoring political stability in the wake of the failed 2015 coup.

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