Tanzania’s President John Magufuli is dead. He died of heart failure in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday, said Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan. The head of state, whose two-week absence in public before his death had fueled speculation about a Covid 19 disease, long denied the existence of the corona virus in the East African country. He was 61 years old.
Tanzania is the only country in the world that no longer collects data on infection numbers, although the WHO repeatedly urges it to do so. The last figures are from May, after which Magufuli declared Corona defeated. Sometimes he called it an invention of the West, sometimes he claimed that a laboratory had also tested a goat and a mango positive for corona.
To this day, Tanzania refuses to order vaccines from the Covax initiative, which provides free quotas to poorer countries. The country has almost no restrictions on public life, and there is still no mask requirement to this day. This has also meant that Tanzania was not hit quite as hard by the pandemic economically and tourism continues.
Magufuli, who came to power in 2015, polarized 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 declined under Magufuli, judged the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW).