The former Moshi Urban Member of Parliament for 15 years was still serving as Kilimanjaro regional chairman for the main opposition CHADEMA party at the time of his demise from a reported heart attack at the age of 82.
In his message of condolence contained in a brief statement, President Magufuli said: “With great sadness, I have received the news of the passing of former Moshi Urban MP Mzee Philemon Ndesamburo which occurred today 31 May 2017 at KCMC referral hospital in Moshi, Kilimajaro Region.”
The head of state said he would remember Ndesamburo as a wise man who engaged in politics in a civilised manner.
Asked to comment on the cause of death after doing a post-mortem, KCMC physician Prof Elisante Masenga told The Guardian that a preliminary medical investigation had shown that Ndesamburo suffered a heart attack.
“We are still conferring with other medical experts, and we will release a final report on the cause of his death later,” Prof Masenga said.
Moshi municipal mayor Raymond Mboya, CHADEMA regional secretary Basil Lema, and former Karatu legislator Rev Israel Natse all separately expressed grief over the veteran politician’s death, saying that CHADEMA, Moshi as a community, and the nation in general had lost a mainstay of Tanzania’s political history and a community development icon to boot.
“I was with the late Ndesamburo in our parliament from 2010 to 2015...he was a true ‘man of the people’,” Natse said.
According to reports, before his sudden demise, Ndesamburo was due to host Arusha mayor Kalisti Lazaro in his office and present a personal monetary donation as condolences following the recent Karatu school bus crash that claimed the lives of 35 people.
Youthful opposition party cadre Godlisten Malisa, who is based in Arusha, said Ndesamburo had just signed the cheque for the donation when he suffered the heart attack which saw him rushed to KCMC hospital.
Also popularly known by the moniker ‘Ndesapesa’ due to his considerable personal wealth as a prominent businessman, he was among CHADEMA members who attended the party’s general council meeting in Dodoma last weekend.
He was still considered one of CHADEMA’s most powerful and influential figures, and his daughter Lucy Owenya is a special seats legislator on the opposition party’s ticket.
Eulogizing Ndesamburo on his Facebook account page yesterday afternoon, Kigoma North MP Zitto Kabwe - formerly of CHADEMA but now with the ACT-Wazalendo party - described his death as a loss not just for CHADEMA but the country as a whole.
Zitto said he was among those who worked particularly closely with Ndesamburo, and paid tribute to his ‘remarkable’ contributions to the party and nation, particularly his unwavering stances in the struggles to establish healthy multiparty politics and enhance democracy in Tanzania.
One particularly strong memory of Ndesamburo is from his stint as MP in 2008, when he asserted that the individuals behind the infamous Richmond electricity contract scandal should be prosecuted in court and have their properties confiscated by the state.
“In other countries, such people would be hanged in public,” Ndesamburo famously remarked.
He also proposed to then-president Jakaya Kikwete to drop the head of the PCCB anti-corruption body and attorney general from a special task force investigating the BoT scandal, strongly suggesting that they had been compromised.