14TH JULY 2021 – DAR ES SALAAM
Your Excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan, President of the United Republic of Tanzania,
Your Excellency, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, Former President of the United Republic of Tanzania,
Mama Anna Mkapa,
Honourable Dorothy Gwajima, Minister of Health, Community
Development, Gender, Elderly and Children,
Honourable Nassor Mazrui, Minister of Health, Social Welfare,
Gender and Children,
The Board and Management of the H.E. Benjamin Mkapa
Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Ladies and Gentlemen.
I thank the organisers for inviting me and for associating me with this historic event. I commend the Board and Management of the Benjamin William Mkapa Foundation for conceiving the idea of organising this symposium and doing it so well. The late President Benjamin William Mkapa, my big brother, my leader, my mentor and my predecessor very much deserves this kind of treatment. Celebrating his Life and Living his Legacy is the right thing to do. I am glad this symposium is reminding us the importance of doing that and how best to do it. I am hoping this will not be a one-off event but it is going to be held at regular intervals.
I have known and worked with the late President Benjamin William Mkapa for over four decades before and after he became President. Both of us were Members of the National Executive Committee of Chama cha Mapinduzi since the 1980s to 2006 when he retired as Chairman of the Party. I continued for 10 more years. When he was a Member of Parliament for Nanyumbu Constituency in Masasi District in 1988, I was the Party Secretary for that District. For seven years we were together in the Cabinet of our Second President H.E. Ali Hassan Mwinyi. When he was elected President for two terms in 1995 and 2000 he appointed me to be his Foreign Minister throughout the ten years he served at the highest office of our nation. This was the time we came to work closely and I became one of his confidants not only on diplomacy but on other national issues as well. I am eternally grateful that when I contested for the Presidency in 2005 to succeed him he supported me.
Throughout his life in public service as a civil servant, journalist, Ambassador, Member of Parliament, Minister and President he put service to the people his topmost priority. He was a very bright guy, visionary, hard working, eloquent and a great Pan-Africanist and an unwavering believer and promoter of regional and African unity and integration. He was passionate in pursuit of his goals and uncompromising on issues he had strong beliefs for. He was tough and at times rough when it was necessary for him to be one. But, he was a very compassionate person who cared for the sick, poor and disadvantaged. There are a number of policy initiatives he took and instruments he put in place and institutions he established which speak for themselves about how compassionate he was. Among them the major ones include for example the Tanzania Development Vision 2025 to take Tanzania from least developed country to lower middle income status, the establishment of TACAIDS to spearhead the fight against HIV and AIDS, the Tanzania Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy to help people move from poverty to property and the Tanzania Social Action Fund to improve livelihoods at household level.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It was his compassionate heart which lead him to establish the Benjamin Mkapa Foundation in 2006 with the objective of advancing the health agenda in Tanzania and Africa. The founding Chairman of the Board of Trustees was H.E. Dr. Hussein A. H. Mwinyi the President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Zanzibar Revolutionary Government. At that time he was the Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office responsible for Union Affairs. Guided by the vision of its founder the late Mkapa and able leadership of the Board Chair, strong foundations were built which have enabled the BMF to become the formidable institution it is today. Hearty congratulations to its founder but many compliments to Dr. Hussein Mwinyi for his able stewardship and laying the solid foundation.
I was privileged to have witnessed the establishment of this wonderful institutiion. I would happily say, the Benjamin Mkapa Foundation was born and thrived during my administration. At the time of its establishment, our country was in the grip of the menace of HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB as major health related risks and there was a serious shortage of Human Resource for Health in our health facilities. The BMF volunteered to work hand and glove with the government to find home grown solutions to these and other challenges facing the health sector. Indeed, in many ways the BMF complemented government’s efforts in implementing the 10 years Health Sector Development Plan (2007-2017).
One of the toughest challenges I had during my Presidency was about getting skilled healthcare workers to work in needy remote setting despite the fact that we in government were capable of paying their personal emoluments. The Foundation in collaboration with the Government at all levels developed innovative HRH solutions which led to:
- Retaining 1147 skilled health workers and later transitioning them to the government systems both in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar;
- Provision of scholarships for pre-service training to 937 health workers;
- Furthermore, through collaborative efforts with the Government and development partners the Foundation constructed 482 staff houses at primary health facilities;
- The Foundation constructed and equipped 11 operating theatres and trained 55 health providers on Comprehensive Obstetric Care;
- Trained all health managers from 134 local government authorities;These remarkable investments contributed to not only retaining skilled health workers but also to the increase of patients enrolled in HIV care and treatment. That marked a great improvement to Tanzania’s efforts to address the effects of the HIV and AIDS pandemic.Your Excellency;The list of good things we were able to do together with the Benjamin Mkapa Foundation is long. I would like to use this opportunity to applaud the Foundation for being reliable and dependable partner of the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar. Please stay the course. I would also like to commend our two governments for sustaining an enabling environment for Non- State Actors to flourish. The results speak for themselves. Take, for example, the scaling down of HIV/AIDS infections. During the late Mkapa time infections fell from 7.7 to 7.1 but during my time the drop was from 7.1 to 5.1. This was made possible through collaboration between the government and its institutions on the one hand and on the other development partners and Non-state Actors like the BMF.
The example of President Benjamin William Mkapa of establishing the BMF inspired me on my retirement to establish the Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete Foundation (JMKF). On health, my Foundation focuses on Maternal, New Born, Child and Adolescent Health. However, we will continue to join forces with the BMF and other players in the fight against HIV for we know very well that it is one of the major causes of diseases and death among women, children and adolescents. My championship of the HIV Free Generation campaign will continue unabated.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen;
Let me end here to allow others to also contribute. There is a lot I can say about the life and wonderful work done by my brother, friend and mentor for the people of Masasi, Tanzania, East Africa, Southern Africa, Africa and the World. I congratulate him for the wise decision to establish the BMF. The foundation has been doing a tremendous job which keeps reminding people about the man behind the vision. Through the work of his found he will forever be remembered, and we will continue to live his legacy. Let’s keep praying to Almighty God to keep the soul of our beloved late President Benjamin William Mkapa in eternal peace. AMEN!
Thank you for listening!