Monday, June 24, 2024

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli is dead

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

The President of Tanzania, John Magufuli has died, according to the government ending days of speculations about his whereabouts.

The country’s vice president, Samia Suluhu said on live television on Wednesday evening that Magufuli succumbed to heart disease in Dar Es Salaam.

This announcement ends the search for the President of Tanzania who hasn’t been seen for weeks amid reports of ill-health.

President John Magufuli isn’t a man known to be absent from the public scene for that long as he is a regular church-goer, regular on TV, and on social media.

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The 61-year-old leader, very outspoken was reported to have contracted coronavirus and was rushed to Kenya for treatment.

Sooner he was reported to had gone to India for further treatment after suffering heart-attack.

But government officials refused to comment about his whereabouts for weeks even when there were reports of his death.

On Monday, the same Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan told Tanzanians not to listen to rumours and urged them to remain united.

“It’s quite normal for anybody to be afflicted by illness, to contract flu or a fever… this is the time for Tanzanians to be united through prayer,” she said.

An opposition party leader, Zitto MwamiRuyagwa Kabwe said he has already spoken to the vice-president to express his condolences.

Death rumoured days ago

But the first person to report of the death of Magufuli, an ex-spy of the government said on Wednesday that he “When I broke the news re: Magufuli’s demise, my sole intention was to inform the public. Not to deceive anyone. Not to compete with anyone.

Not to confuse anyone. Not to convince anyone. The burden of proof, for those of you doubting the news, rests on you: prove me wrong.”

On Wednesday, opposition leader,  Tundu Lissu wrote on twitter that “while preparations for a military parade are going on, the VP is busy touring the country as if nothing is happening. Bob Marley said it all: ‘you can fool some people some time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. And now we see the light!'”

Covid-19 denial

President Magufuli who earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1994 and 2009 and worked as a chemist has always refused to accept the fact that Covid-19 is real and deadly, in order to protect his citizens.

Instead of following science, he didn’t encourage the adherence to safety protocols, urging people to pray and consider the virus devilish.

A top presidential aide of Mr Magufuli died hours after the vice-president of the country’s semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar died from Covid-19.

Last year, President Magufuli declared his country “coronavirus-free” saying the success was due to prayers by citizens.

He told worshippers in a church that “The corona disease has been eliminated thanks to God.”

President John Magufuli warned health officials in his country against acquiring coronavirus vaccines.

Magufuli had said that the vaccines could harm the population, but he didn’t provide any evidence to back that claim.

“The ministry of health should be careful, they should not hurry to try these vaccines without doing research, not every vaccine is important to us, we should be careful. We should not be used as ‘guinea pigs’,” Mr Magufuli said.

The start of a second term ended

Just last year John Magufuli was declared winner of the country’s presidential election, securing over 12.5 million votes, with opposition leader Tundu Lissu coming in second with almost 2 million votes.

Nicknamed “The Bulldozer”, Magufuli was in his first term in 2015 accused of flouting due process and brooking no criticism in the East African country once held up as a stable democracy in an often-volatile region.

Opposition figures faced violence and police intimidation, press freedom was squeezed, and political rallies banned in a steady crackdown that international rights watchdogs said was a steady erosion of freedoms.

Most foreign media were not allowed into Tanzania to cover the election, while local and international observer missions were also not present.

Magufuli, a former teacher also worked as an industrial chemist before becoming a politician with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.

In 1995 he became a member of parliament and got appointed as deputy minister of works.

After gaining popularity in 2010 following his appointment as Tanzania’s minister for works and transportation he nurtured the idea of assuming the presidency and becoming successful in 2015.


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