Tanzania’s President, John Magufuli has died from heart complications aged 61, after two-week speculation that he had contracted coronavirus.
Magufuli’s death was announced on Wednesday, March 17, 2021, by the country’s vice-president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, who said the president died of heart failure at a hospital in Dar es Salaam.
“The president of the United Republic of Tanzania, the honourable Dr John Pombe Joseph Magufuli … [has] died of a heart condition, at hospital Mzena in Dar es Salaam, where he was receiving treatment,” she said on state broadcaster TBC.
Ms Hassan said burial arrangements were under way and announced 14 days of mourning and the flying of flags at half-staff to mark Mr Magufuli’s death.
Magufuli had not been seen in public since February 27, sparking rumors that he had contracted COVID-19. But Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa insisted last week that the president was “healthy and working hard”.
Majaliwa said on Friday that he had spoken to Magufuli, and blamed the rumours of the president’s ill-health on “hateful” Tanzanians living abroad.
But opposition leader, Tundu Lissu, insisted that his sources had told him Magufuli was being treated in hospital for coronavirus in Kenya.
Lissu said that Magufuli’s dismissal of the threat from Covid-19, as well as his refusal to lock down the country as others in the region had done, may have contributed to many unknown deaths.
“He has never worn a mask, he has been going to mass public gatherings without taking any precautions that people are taking all around the world,” Lissu told the BBC last week.
“This is someone who has repeatedly and publicly trashed established medicine. He’s relied on prayers and herbal concoctions of unproven value,” he said.
On Monday, police said they had arrested four people on suspicion of spreading rumours on social media that the president critically ill after contracting Covid-19.
Magufuli had declared Tanzania “Covid-19 free” last June. He mocked the efficacy of masks, expressed doubts about testing, and teased neighbouring countries which imposed health measures to curb the virus.
Tanzania has not published details of its coronavirus cases since May last year, and the government has refused to purchase vaccines.
According to Tanzania’s constitution, Ms Hassan, will be sworn in as the new president and should serve the remainder of Magufuli’s five-year team which he began November last year.
KanyiDaily had also reported how a former Zimbabwean lawmaker, Luke Masamvu, died after contracting coronavirus at the age of 62, leaving behind 12 wives and 79 children.
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