Dar es Salaam — The day started low among the business community yesterday as one of Tanzanian prominent businessmen, Ali Mufuruki, died in a South African hospital where he was receiving treatment.
The news of his death started emerging through social media and was later confirmed by the chairman of the CEO Roundtable (CEOrt) of Tanzania, Sanjay Rughani.
CEOrt is a forum for industry leaders in the Tanzanian private sector which Mufuruki founded in 2000 to engage with government and development partners. Until his death, he was a CEOrt board member.
Mr Mufuruki - who was described as one of Africa's secret millionaires with estimated wealth of $110 million by 2012, according to Ventures Africa - died at Morningside Hospital in Johannesburg in the dawn hours of Sunday after a battle with pneumonia.
Reports had it that Mr Mufuruki was admitted at the Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam - and then transferred to Johannesburg on Saturday.
"It's with immense sadness that we have learnt of the passing away of our board member and great leader, Ali Mufuruki," CEOrt said in a brief statement. "Tanzania, the continent and the world lost today an incredible visionary leader," it added.
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Mufuruki - who liked playing golf - is one of Tanzanian self-made dollar millionaires who owned Infotech Investment Group and also launched Woolworths Stores in 1999 in Tanzania and Uganda as franchise of Woolworths of South Africa.
On October 18, Mufuruki announced his resignation as chairman of Vodacom Tanzania effective December 1, 2019 to have more time for his businesses.
He owns Wananchi Cable (T), a subsidiary of Wananchi Group Holdings of Kenya.
The boardroom guru and influential leader who lived from 1958 to 2019 had a wealth of $110 million in 2012 as reported by Ventures Africa.
Mufurki is Tanzania's second dollar millionaire to die in 2019..Reginald Mengi, a media mogul, died last May in Dubai.
Burial arrangements for Mufuruki were being worked on, and details would be communicated later by family members and the CEOrt who are organizing the funeral. At Mufuruki's home in Kunduchi Beach, some mourners had already gathered to wait for the body to be transported from Johannesburg.
"From what we know, his wife Saada and daughter Leila left for South Africa earlier today (Sunday), and they are still there. We will keep talking to them and communicate accordingly," said Mr Rughani who is also the chief executive officer of Standard Chartered Bank Tanzania. To Mr Rughani, Mufuruki was more than a colleague. "He taught us. He mentored us and he inspired us. To me, he was more than a friend. It is so painful that I do not have enough words to express my sorrow," he said.
The news also went viral on social media with different sections of Tanzanians expressing their sorrow moments following the news.
"Your courage, your perseverance and endurance, your hope for this country and Africa in the midst of uncertainties, your support to new generation of African leaders, including myself, and your sadness on the state of our economic management remains my memory of you @amufuruki," tweeted ACT Wazalendo leader and MP Zitto Kabwe.
Government leaders and envoys also expressed their sad moments including President John Magufuli and Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
"I'm saddened by the news of death of my friend Ali Mufurki (founder of CEO Roundtable Tanzania). I will remember him for his patriotism, contribution to grow the private sector and his advice to the government," tweeted President John Magufuli. "We just heard of the passing away of leading Tanzanian businessman Ali Mufuruki. Our deepest condolences go out to his family and loved ones," tweeted the Embassy of Germany in Tanzania.
"Saddened to learn of the passing of Ali Mufuruki. My condolences to his family and friends at this very sad time," tweeted British High Commissioner to Tanzania Ms Sarah Cooke.
"His beginnings are not out of this world ...his journey was similar to most of us but he had a special mindset... ," tweeted Mr Lawrence Mafuru, a veteran banker who is now managing partner at Bakable - financial services advisory company. "We either live because we have life, or live for a purpose. You lived for a purpose -to make a difference in society and inspire others- you have accomplished your purpose Ali, go well. My prayers are with the family during this difficult time of grief," he added.
Business associations were also overwhelmed by the sad news of Mufuruki's death.
"The Chairman, Board of Directors and Management of the East African Business Council (EABC) is deeply saddened to hear the loss of Ali Mfuruki, a great business leader, philanthropist and a Pan-African champion. Our prayers, solidarity and sympathy are with his family, friend and the entire EAC Private Sector," EABC stated.
"No word can adequately express our sadness. On behalf of the business community, we send our deepest condolences to Ali's family during this difficult moment. The private sector mourns with you and celebrate the life of this remarkable business leader who devoted his life to advocate for a better business environment," said Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF).