Wednesday March 17th 2021
Corona deniers in the presidential office
Tanzania’s head of state Magufuli is dead
He wanted to fight Corona with prayers and steam baths, he deliberately ignored the number of new infections in his country. Now Tanzania’s controversial President John Magufuli has died. Before that, he had disappeared from the scene for a long time.
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli is dead. The head of state died of heart failure in a hospital in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, said Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan. His long absence had fueled public speculation about the illness of the head of state, who has been in office since 2015. The 61-year-old had long denied the existence of Covid-19 in the East African country and downplayed the risk of the corona virus. The former German colony with its around 58 million inhabitants has not published new infection numbers since May 2020.
According to Hassan, the president suffered from a chronic cardiac arrhythmia. This was diagnosed more than ten years ago. Magufuli was recently hospitalized for this reason, discharged and re-admitted on Sunday after his condition deteriorated, she said. Hassan announced a 14-day mourning period. According to the constitution, she will now assume the highest office in the country until the next election in 2025.
Magufuli’s handling of the corona pandemic had caused criticism and concern both in his home country and internationally. He questioned the credibility of corona tests and recommended prayers and steam baths. Magufuli – sometimes called the “bulldozer” because of his uncompromising leadership style – urged the Ministry of Health to be careful with vaccines developed abroad and questioned how they could have been developed so quickly. Unlike in many other African countries, where foreign holidaymakers arriving by plane had to go into quarantine for several days last year, he opened the East African country to tourism.
Celebrated and feared
The exiled opposition politician Tundu Lissu recently sparked speculation on Twitter about Magufuli’s disease of Covid-19. “With his devastated Covid denial, his prayer-instead-science craze has proven to be a deadly boomerang,” he wrote. According to his information, Magufuli was seriously ill and first taken to a hospital in the Kenyan capital Nairobi for treatment and then to India. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, however, rejected speculation about Covid-19 disease and said the president was continuing to work on plans for the country’s development.
Magufuli polarized in the East African country. He was supported by proponents, among other things, because of his strong and uncompromising leadership style, large infrastructure projects and promises to fight corruption. Critics, however, condemned his increasing restrictions on freedom of the press and freedom of expression as well as his handling of the corona pandemic. The human rights record in Tanzania has steadily deteriorated under Magufuli, judged the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW).
“This is an unprecedented moment for the United Republic of Tanzania and one that will undoubtedly move us all in a very personal way,” said opposition leader Zitto Kabwe after Magufuli’s death. The president will be remembered for his contribution to the development of Tanzania. The US government expressed its condolences to the people of Tanzania. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US would continue to support the people of Tanzania to advocate respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the fight against the pandemic. “We hope that Tanzania will continue to move on the path of democracy and prosperity,” he said. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted after Magufuli’s death, “My thoughts are with his loved ones and the people of Tanzania”.
Magufuli was born on October 29, 1959 in the western Chato district and first became a teacher before earning his doctorate in chemistry at the University of Dar es Salaam and then going into politics.