Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli yesterday led hundreds of politicians, businesspersons, foreign dignitaries, celebrities and ordinary citizens in a dignified act of national unity at Dar es Salaam's Karimjee Hall to pay their last respects to businessman Reginald Mengi.
Mr Mengi, 77, died in a Dubai hospital last Thursday of undisclosed illness and his body was flown to Dar es Salaam on Monday.
President Magufuli, who was accompanied by Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan and other top government officials spent over one hour to mourn Mr Mengi.
Nearly everybody who came at the ceremony had something good to recount about Mr Mengi. Many showered praises to the media mogul whom they described as a man who fulfilled his life dreams.
The minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, hailed the contribution of the former executive chairman of the IPP Group of companies in implementing Tanzania's industrialisation agenda. He delivered government's condolence message.
Prof Kabudi said "Mengi's contribution touched most of stakeholders in the country through his IPP Group of Companies and other businesses, he invested in oil and gas sector, minerals, agriculture and health sectors."
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He said the government valued Mr Mengi's immense contribution in creating jobs for locals while on the other front attracted foreign investments through partnerships with foreign countries.
Last year, according to Prof Kabudi, Mr Mengi signed at least $10 million deal with a South Korean firm to establish a vehicle assembly plant in Dar es Salaam.
He was also in the process of establishing a joint venture project with Indian physician Dr Nagesh Bhandari to establish a pharmaceutical industry in Bagamoyo District, Coast Region.
Information, Culture, Arts and Sports minister Harrison Mwakyembe said Mr Mengi's contribution to the development of arts, media, and culture and sports was immeasurable.
"Mr Mengi provided a platform through his media... we can all testify most of those who went through Mr Mengi's hands have succeeded somehow," said the minister.
He added: "recently Mr Mengi was a patron of the under seventeen national football team (Serengeti Boys), which failed by a whisker to qualify for the world cup championship in Brazil.
"Just a few day before his demise he called me and asked how he could support the national team, which is scheduled to participate in the African Cup of Nation, unfortunately I couldn't meet him."
For his part, the chairman of the opposition NCCR-Mageuzi, who doubles as the chairman of Tanzania Centre for Democracy, Mr James Mbatia, said managed to play a delicate balance when he freely cooperated with people of different political affiliations despite being a ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) member.
Ubungo Member of Parliament Saed Kubenea narrated how Mengi helped to save his life and sight following an acid attack in 2008.
"I think, had it not been for Mr Mengi's support, I could be blind today. He footed some of my medical expenses outside the country. He also supported me, when I was starting my media company, even when he already owned media outlets himself, " said Mr Kubenea.
For his part, Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Mr Paul Makonda hailed Mr Mengi as selfless man, who cared for the poor especially the disabled.
Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) secretary general, Dr Charles Kitima, said Mr Mengi touched lives of many Tanzanians in many ways.
"We have truly lost our true friend; he helped us in many ways," said Rev Fr Kitima.
During his life Mr Mengi served as the chairman of the Confederation of Tanzania industries. He also chaired the Media Owners Association of Tanzania.