There was drama yesterday as a Kenya Airforce plane carrying Kenyan delegation to Tanzania to attend burial of former president Benjamin Mkapa turned back midair, it was later revealed that the weather conditions was not good. However there were reports that flights were operating normally and therefore issue of weather may have been just an excuse.
The drama comes hours after President Uhuru seemed to criticize Tanzania for hiding information regarding the Covid-19 situation in the country.
“The fact that countries don’t report what happens in their countries does not mean they are fine, we are an open society and we have to tell our stories,” President Kenyatta said during a state of the nation address on Monday evening.
Thousands of Tanzanians gathered yesterday to bid farewell to the country’s third president Benjamin Mkapa during a requiem mass at Uhuru Stadium in Temeke district in Dar es Saalam.
Senate Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio had been sent to deliver President Uhuru’s message of condolence to Mkapa’s family and the entire nation of Tanzania.
Tanzanian government officials announced during Mkapa’s farewell ceremony that the Kenyan delegation could not attend the event.
On Friday, President Kenyatta announced three days of national mourning
Speaking at the event, President John Magufuli said Mkapa was instrumental when he took part in peace talks and reconciliation for countries in the Great Lakes region.
“Mkapa was a global citizen. He was a dynamic leader, a seasoned diplomat, a mediator and a peacemaker,” Magufuli said in his address televised live by state-run Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation.
The head of state added that during his administration, Mkapa also oversaw the country’s economic reforms, good governance and growth of the private sector.
Mkapa, who died on Friday, will be buried today in his native village of Lupaso in Masasi district in Mtwara region.
Born on November 12, 1938, Mkapa served two five-year terms from 1995 to 2005.
And yesterday, Poghisio told local reporters that the weather was ‘very bad’. “The Tanzanian Civil Aviation warned us of bad weather and we could not land in the city. We needed time to hold before the weather clears or be rerouted back,” said Poghisio.
While addressing mourners, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of the Government of Tanzania Palamagamba Kabudi said the plane returned when it reached Monduli District in Arusha Region of Tanzania.
Poghisio left Wilson Airport at 8 in the morning and was expected to deliver the president’s message at noon before flying back to Nairobi where there would be a showdown at the Senate over the controversial formula for allocating revenue to counties.
“We realised that based on time, we could not take long in Tanzania due to the bad weather and decided to return,” said the Senate Majority Leader.
The Fokker 70 ER jet, christened Harambee One, that flew Poghisio and two parliamentary staffs, is the preferred plane for use by Kenya’s heads of state and VVIP’s. It was acquired in 1995 through the Kenya Air Force by former president, the late Daniel Arap Moi.
In his message, Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka described the former Tanzanian leader a trusted neighbour and a champion of regional integration. Mkapa will be remembered as a champion of regional integration and a trusted neighbour to Kenya,” wrote Kalonzo.
He spoke at the Tanzanian High Commission where he was received by the newly appointed High Commissioner Dr John Stephen Simbachawene.