THE body of the Minister for Finance, Dr William Mgimwa, arrived in Dar es Salaam to a sombre welcome by cabinet colleagues, senior government officials and family members.
It was a really sad moment and tears flowed freely as the South African Airways flight that transported the body from Oliver Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg touched down at Terminal Two of Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) AT 1:47pm.
Dr Mgimwa died at a South African hospital, Mediclinic Kloof in Pretoria, where he was admitted for emergency treatment last Wednesday at the age of 64. The situation became visibly tenser with emotions running high as the mostly white and South African flag colour-tailed aircraft began its descent on the Dar es Salaam airport against the scorching afternoon sun.
The select burial committee, under the chairmanship of Ismani MP and Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (Policy, Coordination and Parliamentary Affairs), Mr William Lukuvi, solemnly walked towards the aircraft to receive the coffin.
They immediately draped it with a sheet bearing colours of the national flag before it was carried outside the airport.
In interviews with the 'Sunday News' several members of the airport receiving party described Dr Mgimwa as a humble, hardworking and open-minded person who was ready to share ideas with anyone irrespective of their political affiliation.
They said the best way to honour the departed minister was to work hard and cherish the spirit of patriotism. The Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs, Mr Mathias Chikawe, said Dr Mgimwa was a very dedicated and hardworking man not only in the financial sector but the nation in general.
"The nation has lost a very important and dearly needed person in the nation's development... I used to sit next to him during cabinet meetings.
He was very serious and keen in his work as a minister, he worked very hard," Mr Chikawe remarked. Kigoma North MP Zitto Kabwe echoed Mr Chikawe's statements, adding that the departed minister was a very humble, hardworking and open minded person who was always ready to share ideas with anyone irrespective of the political divide.
"He was always ready to share ideas with everyone... ready to seek out other people's views on various issues related to his sector... and that is I never had a quarrel with him," he said calling for other dignitaries and politicians to emulate Dr Mgimwa's good deeds for the sake of the country's development.
Minister without Portfolio Prof Mark Mwandosya said Dr Mgimwa was a very humble and uncomplicated person despite being a professional and public figure. Former United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Dr Asha-Rose Migiro, described Dr Mgimwa as a very hardworking person who served his Kalenga constituency and the nation very well.
"The best way to emulate Dr Mgimwa is to work hard like he did. He performed to the best of his ability not only in his constituency but also in the ministry (Finance and Economic Affairs) that he handled very well," she said, adding that the nation has lost a very important person in its development.
Meanwhile, Dr Mgimwa's body is today expected to be taken to the Karimjee Hall in Dar es Salaam where members of the public will be able to pay their last respects, followed by special prayers before being transported to his Magunga home village in Iringa Region for burial.
"The deceased's body will be transported by a special government flight to Iringa Region on the same day (today)," said Mr Lukuvi. He added that the body will arrive at Nduli Airport in Iringa where residents will be able to pay their last respects at the Municipal Hall before being sent to Magunga.