The 3rd President of the United Republic of Tanzania, the late Benjamin William Mkapa, was born out of the family of Mzee William Matwani and Mama Stephania Nambaga on 12th November, 1938, at Lupaso village, Masasi, in Mtwara Region. He was the last born in the family of four children (4).
The Late Benjamin William Mkapa completed his Primary education at Lupaso Primary School and thereafter joined Ndanda Secondary School for three years (1948 – 1951), before joining Kigonsera Seminary School in Ruvuma Region.
- He joined St. Francis College at Pugu in Dar es Salaam in 1955 and competed form Five and Six in 1956.
- He joined Makerere University in Uganda for undergraduate studies from 1959 – 1962 after which he acquired his first degree in English Literature and Phonetics.
- In 1963, he obtained his Master’s Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Colombia University, in the United States of America.
EMPLOYMENT IN THE CIVIL SERVICE
The Late Benjamin William Mkapa began his career as a Government Administrative Officer in Dodoma district, in Dodoma Region, April, 1962. In August 1962, after four months of work, he proceeded to pursue his Post Graduate Studies in Diplomacy from Colombia University in the United States of America.
Upon return from his studies in 1963, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a Foreign Service Officer where he served as Desk Officer for Africa. Among his responsibilities was to take minutes of the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the President when they had international meetings.
The Late President Benjamin William Mkapa worked in the Civil Service as an ordinary government officer for a very short period of time. For a good long time, the late, was a leader in various positions as follows:
- In 1966, he was appointed a Managing Editor of the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) Party Newspaper – The Nationalist. By virtue of this position he was permitted to attend the Party’s Central Committee Meetings.
- He was a Member of Parliament of the East African Parliament from 1970 – 1975.
- In April 1972, the Late Benjamin William Mkapa was appointed the first Managing Editor of the Government English Newspapers namely the Daily News and Sunday News.
- From 1974 to 1976, he was appointed as the President’s Press Secretary.
- In 1976 he was assigned to establish Shirika la Habari Tanzania (SHIHATA) and was later made the CEO of the same.
- In 1976 he was appointed Tanzania’s Ambassador to Nigeria.
- In 1977, he served as Minister for Foreign Affairs and nominated Member of Parliament. He led the Ministry for three years before he was appointed Minister of Information and Culture, the Ministry he led from 1980 –1982.
- Between 1982 – 1983 he was appointed and served as Tanzania’s Ambassador to Canada where he had a brief tour of service and was transferred to the United States as Tanzania’s Ambassador, where he served until 1984.
- In 1984, he was again appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs, a position he held for six years – until 1990 when he was again appointed Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
- From 1990 to 1992, he was Minister of Information and Broadcasting.
- In 1992, he was made Minister for Science, Technology and Higher Education, the position he held until 1995, when he decided to stand for presidential candidature and emerged triumphant as President of the United Republic of Tanzania as flag bearer of Chama cha Mapinduzi – CCM.
The late Mkapa was married to Mama Anna and were blessed with two children namely Stephen (Steve) and Nicholas (Nico). He also has two grandchildren.
- The late Benjamin William Mkapa was appointed Member of Parliament, in 1977.
- Between 1985 and 1995 he served as an elected Member of Parliament for Nanyumbu Constituency in Masasi District, Mtwara Region.
- For a number of years, the late Mkapa was a member of the Central Committee of Chama cha Mapinduzi– CCM, Member of the National Executive Committee and a Member of the Secretariat of CCM responsible for Foreign Affairs.
- In November 1995, he was elected President as the 3rd President of the United Republic of Tanzania until 2005 and simultaneously served as the Chairperson of Chama cha Mapinduzi.
- The late President B. W. Mkapa was the First elected President under Multi-party system, put in place in 1992.
SALIENT SUCCESSES OF THE LATE BENJAMIN WILLIAM MKAPA DURING HIS TERM OF OFFICE
During the time when the late Benjamin Mkapa was the Minister for Foreign Affairs, among other important activities, he was fully and steadfastly engaged in the liberation struggle of the African continent. He established very good rapport at international level which enabled Tanzania to get unflinching support from the world over including that of big nations like China and Russia. The late Benjamin William Mkapa was highly respected in Southern African countries for his grand contributions he made during
the liberation struggle under the leadership of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. Many of those Southern African countries awarded the late Mkapa with Medals of the Highest Order in recognition of his contribution during the liberation struggle.
After his presidential ascendancy, he vigorously began to adjust the economy by introducing reforms in the Government in order to solve the challenges which prevailed then. In the plight against corruption, the late Mkapa, in 1996, created a Presidential Commission to investigate corruption in the country under the leadership of the retired Prime minister, Hon. Joseph Sinde Warioba. The outcome of the Commission did, to a great extent, re-enforced the war against corruption in the country leading to the creation of the Anti-Corruption Institution in the country.
The late Benjamin William Mkapa introduced and encouraged economic reforms which included giving wider space in the private sector and privatization of Public Institutions which were mal-functioning and those which had already collapsed. He introduced a system of dialogue between the Government and the Private Sector where he personally oversaw through the National Business Council – NBC.
He also strengthened fiscal policies and controlled circulation of money and inflation in the country. He augmented tremendously government revenues and in general instilled economic principles in the country.
The late Benjamin William Mkapa initiated and began to implement National Development Vision 2000 – 2005, which is currently being implemented. He also put in place various important institutions in order to improve government execution in the following areas:-
- The National Health Insurance Fund (Mfuko wa Bima Taifa)
- Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) (Mamlaka ya Mapato Tanzania)
- Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) (Wakala wa Barabara Tanzania)
- Tanzania Social Support Fund (TASAF) (Mfuko wa Jamii)
- Tanzania Commission for AIDs (TACAIDS) (Tume ya Kupambana na Ugonjwa wa Ukimwi).
- Tanzania Poverty Reduction Strategy (MKUKUTA) (Mkakati wa Kuondoa Umaskini na Kukuza Uchumi Tanzania).
- Property and Business Formalization Program (BFFP) (Mpango wa Kuimarisha Raslimali na Biashara (MKURABITA).
- National Business Council (NBC) (Baraza la Biashara la Taifa (BBT).
- Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) (Taasisi ya Sekta Binafsi Tanzania).
The Late Benjamin William Mkapa strengthened the freedom of the Mass Media and politics. He fully recognized and supported the development of religious institutions in the nation; with that in mind, he handed over government buildings to some institutions in order to establish universities. For example, he handed over the Mazengo Secondary buildings to the Anglican Church to establish St. John’s University. He gave the Iringa Bank College buildings to the Catholic Church in order to establish the Ruaha University; and TANESCO buildings in Morogoro to BAKWATA in order to establish the Islamic University of Morogoro. He also handed over the buildings of the Secondary School Magamba to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (KKKT) so that they may start their Sebastian Kolowa Memorial University (SEKOMU). As incumbent President, the Late Benjamin William Mkapa occupied the following international positions.
- Chairperson of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization
- Chairperson of the Advisory Board Panel of Microsoft Africa
- Founder Member of the Panel of African Leadership Forum
From the year 2005, the Late Benjamin William Mkapa occupied himself with various political and development issues including:-
- The creation of his Foundation, The Benjamin William Mkapa Foundation (BMF), geared toward combating HIV/AIDS including the improvement of health services delivery system especially in the periphery areas of the country.
- Acting as Chancellor of the University of Dodoma (UDOM).
- Chancellor of the Cavendish University in Uganda.
- Serving as member of the Board of Trustees of the Aga Khan University.
- Facilitator to the Inter-Burundi Dialogue in Burundi.
- Member, Committee of the Club of Retired African Presidents on the Campaign Against HIV/AIDS.
- Member, Panel of Eminent Persons: Enhancing the development role and impact of UNCTAD.
- Member, Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on UN System-Wide Coherence in the areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and the Environment.
- Member, Commission for Africa established by former Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom.
- Member, Board of Trustees, African Wildlife Foundation.
- Chair of the United Nation’s Panel monitoring Sudan referenda.
- Co- Mediator and African Union Special Envoy with former President Olusegun Obasanjo of the Republic of Nigeria in the political conflict in DRC.
- Co-chief Negotiator with Former Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan and Graca Machel, on the Political Conflicts in Kenya.
- Co-Founder of the Investment Climate Facility for Africa.
The Late Benjamin William Mkapa was awarded the following medals:-
- The Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya (Chief ) (2005)
- The Jane Goodall Global Leadership Award (2007)
- The Order of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (2011).
The Late Benjamin William Mkapa, was honored and awarded the following Honorary Degrees from various national and foreign Universities:-
The Late Benjamin William Mkapa had clarions which fitted well with his thinking regarding national development and self- reliance, “Ukweli na Uwazi”, meaning Truth and Transparency. And, “Mtaji wa Maskini ni Nguvu zake Mwenyewe”,meaning “Poor man’s capital is his own strength” and reliance on God during the labor. He often said; “Oraet labora” meaning “Prayer and Work”. We should be guarded by his clarions as we emulate him.
ILLNESS AND HIS PASSING AWAY
President Benjamin William Mkapa, the 3rd President of the United Republic of Tanzania passed away as a result of cardiac arrest on 23rd July, 2020 at 9.30 pm, at the age of 81.
The Lord gave,
and the Lord has taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.