Benjamin Mkapa – All-Around Summary of Third President of Tanzania

Benjamin Mkapa – All-Around Summary of Third President of Tanzania

Benjamin Mkapa, who lived between November 12, 1938, and July 24, 2020, was Tanzania’s third president between 1995 and 2005. He served as Chairperson of the Revolutionary Political Party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).

Benjamin Mkapa Early Life

Benjamin Mkapa was born on November 12, 1938 in Lupaso, close to Masasi, Tanganyika. He finished at Makerere University, Uganda, in 1962 with a B.A. in English. In 1963, he proceeded to Columbia University, where he bagged an M.A. degree in International Affairs.

He was previously an administrative officer in Dodoma and the Minister for Technology, Science and Higher Education. In 1982, Benjamin Mkapa headed the Tanzanian mission to Canada. From 1983 to 1984, he headed the Tanzanian mission to the U.S. He initially served as Foreign Affairs minister from 1977 and 1980 and later from 1984 to 1990, before meeting Edward Mwassaga, his best friend.

Benjamin Mkapa Presidency

Benjamin Mkapa was voted in as president in 1995. He owed his election to a well-liked anti-corruption campaign as well as the strong backing of ex-president Julius Nyerere. His anti-corruption efforts included the establishment of an open agency known as the Presidential Commission on Corruption and providing more support to the Corruption Prevention Bureau. In December 2005, Benjamin Mkapa’s second five-year term as president ended. During this tenure, Benjamin Mkapa privatized national corporations and enacted free-market policies. His supporters contended that attracting foreign investors would aid economic growth. The World Bank and IMF supported Mkapa’s policies and cancelled some of Tanzania’s foreign debt as a result.

Benjamin Mkapa was berated for the inadequacy of his anti-corruption efforts and for spending lavishly. He bought a private presidential jet for £15 million and spent nearly £30 million to procure military aviation tools from BAE Systems, which experts deemed excessive for Tanzania’s military. Britain’s secretary for International Development, Clare Short, publicly expressed outrage over the latter purchase, which resulted in her being called ‘Mama Radar’ in the Tanzanian media.

Tanzania’s military - TPDF
Tanzania’s military – TPDF

Benjamin Mkapa Post-presidency

Benjamin Mkapa left office after exhausting his two-term limit. Several allegations of corruption were levelled against him, including the improper appropriation of the profitable Kiwira coal mine, located in the southern part of Tanzania, to himself and his ex-Finance Minister Daniel Yona without following due process. He was accused of breaching the country’s constitution by privatizing the mine to himself because the constitution forbids a president from engaging in business at the state-house.

Benjamin Mkapa was a member of A.U.’s delegation of Eminent African Personalities sent to Kenya in 2007 to settle the political violence that broke out because of disputed election results. Benjamin Mkapa, alongside humanitarian and ex-First Lady of South Africa and Mozambique, Graça Machel, as well as former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan (Chairperson), led the group’s mediation efforts that culminated in the signing of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act of 2008.

Between 2007 and 2012, Benjamin Mkapa was a trustee of Aga Khan University.

Death of Benjamin Mkapa

During a burial mass aired on state-owned T.V. station TBC1, a member of Benjamin Mkapa’s family, William Erio stated that Benjamin Mkapa was down with malaria and was admitted for treatment on July 22, 2020. He died of a heart attack in the early hours of Friday 24th July, aged 81. Tanzanian President John P. Magufuli announced Mkapa’s death. He was interred in Lupaso, Masasi, his hometown. In recognition of his role in settling the 2007/2008 post-election violence in Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya declared three days of mourning following Benjamin Mkapa’s death. He ordered that all flags at public grounds and buildings be flown at half-mast.

Benjamin Mkapa Awards and Honours

Awards

Jane Goodall Global Leadership Award – 2007

Honours

Order Country Year
Order of Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere Tanzania 2011
Order of the Golden Heart of Kenya (Chief) Kenya 2005
 

University

 

 

Degree

 

Country

 

Year

Makerere University Doctor of Law Uganda 2009
University of Cape Coast Doctor of Letters Ghana 2008
Newcastle University Doctor of Civil Law The U.K. 2007
University of Dar es Salaam Honourary Degree Tanzania 2006
Kenyatta University Doctor of Education Kenya 2005
National University of Lesotho Doctor of Law Lesotho 2005
Tanzania Open University Honourary Degree Tanzania 2003
Morehouse College Honourary Degree USA 1999
Soka University Honourary Degree Japan 1998

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