Foreign dignitaries arrive for Mkapa’s state funeral

28Jul 2020
By Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Foreign dignitaries arrive for Mkapa’s state funeral

​​​​​​​FOREIGN dignitaries started arriving in the country yesterday for former President Benjamin Mkapa’s State funeral, which takes place in Dar es Salaam today.

Chief government spokesman Dr Hassan Abbasi.

Chief government spokesman Dr Hassan Abbasi said in the city yesterday that those who had confirmed attendance by yesterday afternoon include vice presidents and prime ministers from neighbouring countries and beyond.

The Burundian delegation, led by Prime Minister Alain Bunyoni, jetted into the city earlier yesterday ready for the national event slated for Uhuru Stadium.

Zimbabwe’s Vice President, Constantino Chiwenga, is also expected to attend the event.

Dr Abbasi said that the day-long event is scheduled to get under way from as early as 7 a.m. with a requiem mass for the departed leader at the Saint Immaculate Catholic Church in the city’s Upanga suburb, where the former president regularly attended church services.

The government spokesman said details on the foreign leaders’ names and the countries they represent would be ascertained as the day wore on, “as the Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation ministry is finalising all arrangements”.

Formal activities at the stadium will start immediately after the former president’s body is brought there at around 9 a.m.

Dr Abbasi said that, upon completion of the state funeral, the body would be flown to Nachingwea military airfield in Mtwara Region ready for burial tomorrow at the deceased’s home village, Lupaso, in Masasi District.

On Sunday, the late president’s family said that he died of cardiac arrest while receiving treatment for malaria at Dar es Salaam hospital.

Speaking during prayers for the deceased and the viewing of his body on the first of three days designated for residents of Dar es Salaam, family spokesman William Erio said Mkapa first felt unwell on Wednesday last week while at home.

He said that the former president then went to hospital for a check-up and tests carried out showed that he had a bout of malaria.

After the malaria results came out, Erio said, Mkapa was admitted to that city medical facility and was responding well to treatment. On the fateful Thursday, however, he spent the better part of the day watching the proceedings of  the nomination primaries for the CCM women’s wing that were being broadcast live.

President John Magufuli announced to the nation in a brief televised appearance past midnight on Friday that Mkapa had succumbed to an illness while undergoing treatment in the city.

Mkapa, who took over the leadership of the country after the first multiparty elections in 1995, is credited with the implementation of economic reforms in Tanzania that kick-started steady growth after decades of socialism from the 1960s to the 1980s and biting effects of structural adjustment programmes in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

He has also been hailed for playing a pivotal role in reconciliation efforts in Africa, cutting out the figure of a towering diplomat of international standing.

The body of he departed leader was being viewed at the Uhuru Stadium for three days (up late yesterday) to allow residents of Dar es Salaam and neighbouring regions to pay their last respects to the departed statesman.

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