Tanzania’s president John Magufuli, outstanding COVID-19 sceptic in Africa, dies at 61

Tanzania’s president John Magufuli, outstanding COVID-19 sceptic in Africa, dies at 61

Though Vice-President Samia Suluhu mentioned the reason for Magufuli’s loss of life was coronary heart failure, Opposition politicians had earlier claimed he’d been recognized with COVID-19

Nakuru (Kenya): President John Magufuli of Tanzania, a outstanding COVID-19 sceptic in Africa whose populist rule usually solid his East African nation in a harsh worldwide highlight, has died. He was 61 years outdated.

Magufuli’s loss of life was introduced on Wednesday by Vice President Samia Suluhu, who mentioned the president died of coronary heart failure.

“Our beloved president handed on at 6 pm this night,” mentioned Suluhu on nationwide tv. “All flags can be flown at half-mast for 14 days. It’s unhappy information. The president has had this sickness for the previous 10 years.”

The vice chairman mentioned that Magufuli died at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, the Indian Ocean port that’s Tanzania’s largest metropolis.

Though Vice-President Samia Suluhu mentioned the reason for Magufuli’s loss of life was coronary heart failure, Opposition politicians had earlier claimed he’d been recognized with COVID-19 .

Magufuli had not been seen in public for the reason that finish of February and prime authorities officers had denied that he was in unwell well being at the same time as rumors swirled on-line that he was sick and presumably incapacitated from sickness.

Magufuli was certainly one of Africa’s most outstanding deniers of COVID-19 . He had mentioned final 12 months that Tanzania had eradicated the illness by three days of nationwide prayer. Tanzania has not reported its COVID-19 tallies of confirmed circumstances and deaths to African well being authorities since April 2020.

However the variety of deaths of individuals experiencing respiration issues reportedly grew and earlier this month the U.S. embassy warned of a big improve within the variety of COVID-19 circumstances in Tanzania since January. Days later the presidency introduced the loss of life of John Kijazi, Magufuli’s chief secretary. Quickly after the loss of life was introduced of the vice chairman of the semi-autonomous island area of Zanzibar, whose political celebration had earlier reported that he had COVID-19 .

Critics charged that Magufuli’s dismissal of the menace from COVID-19 , in addition to his refusal to lock down the nation as others within the area had accomplished, might have contributed to many unknown deaths.

It’s exhausting to gauge how most Tanzanians regarded Magufuli’s COVID-19 skepticism, in a rustic the place he remained genuinely well-liked amongst many for his seemingly frank discuss towards corruption at the same time as he curtailed political freedoms and more and more asserted an authoritarian streak. Police arrested at the very least one man earlier this week who was accused of spreading false details about Magufuli’s well being.

First elected to the presidency in 2015, Magufuli was serving a second five-year time period received in 2020 elections that the opposition and a few rights teams mentioned had been neither free nor truthful. His important opponent in that race, Tundu Lissu, needed to relocate to Belgium after the vote, fearing for his security. Lissu, who was among the many first to lift questions concerning the whereabouts of Magufuli after he went lacking for a number of days, had been shot 16 occasions again in 2017, an assault he blamed on authorities brokers due to his criticism of the president.

Magufuli had turn into so highly effective by the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak that he may deny the existence of a pandemic with out incurring the criticism of his predecessor and different outstanding individuals inside Tanzania. In early 2021, amid hypothesis that Magufuli would search an unconstitutional third time period when his mandate expired in 2025, his ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi celebration was compelled to disclaim such a factor may occur.

John Pombe Magufuli was born on Oct. 29, 1959, within the rural space of Chato within the nation’s northwest. The son of a subsistence farmer, he tended his father’s cattle however was an excellent pupil, seeing classroom research as a method out of poverty. Magufuli earned a bachelor’s diploma in arithmetic and chemistry on the College of Dar es Salaam in 1988. A lot later, in 2009, he earned a doctorate in chemistry from the identical college.

For years he was a secondary college trainer after which a chemist with a farmers’ cooperative union earlier than getting into politics as a lawmaker representing Chato within the Nationwide Meeting. The legislative function was a springboard to a profession in nationwide politics, and he served in a number of Cupboard positions, notably because the hardworking public works minister nicknamed “the bulldozer” within the administration of predecessor Jakaya Kikwete.

A repute as an incorruptible man was broadly seen as one motive for his choice as the brand new chief of Chama Cha Mapinduzi, the celebration that had dominated Tanzania since independence however whose reputation was declining largely due to allegations of rampant corruption.

In 2015, the newly elected Magufuli made information on his first day in workplace. He confirmed up unannounced within the morning on the Ministry of Finance places of work to see what number of officers had come to work on time. That week he additionally banned pointless journeys by authorities officers, as an austerity measure. He quickly canceled Independence Day celebrations and mentioned the funds budgeted for the occasion could be used to enhance roads and infrastructure in Dar es Salaam, the business capital. Magufuli additionally fired a variety of prime authorities officers in his anti-corruption campaign.

At the very least within the early days of his presidency, Magufuli was seen because the chief Tanzania wanted. He was broadly admired by Tanzanians but additionally by others in East Africa who, citing his powerful stance towards corruption, wished for a pacesetter like him. However in a short time others noticed indicators of intolerance as Magufuli cracked down on dissenters and those that criticized his work strategies.

In early 2016 Magufuli stopped stay broadcasts of parliamentary debates through which the opposition criticized the federal government, and in July that 12 months he banned political rallies.

Magufuli’s harsh rule was prolonged to the nation’s LBGT group, along with his authorities stopping help businesses from supporting same-sex teams to stop the unfold of HIV/AIDS.

Amnesty Worldwide criticized a number of payments supported by Magufuli and handed into legal guidelines as designed to “stifle all types of dissent and successfully clamp down on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceable meeting.”

Nevertheless it was Magufuli’s denial of COVID-19 that introduced him intense worldwide consideration.

Quickly after the primary case of the illness was confirmed in Tanzania in March 2020, Magufuli urged individuals to go to church buildings and mosques to hope. Magufuli, a religious Catholic, pronounced that “ Coronavirus is a satan … and can’t sit within the physique of Christ.” Then in April the nation stopped cooperating with the worldwide group concerning its COVID-19 caseload.

Magufuli introduced in June that COVID-19 had been eradicated from Tanzania by three days of nationwide prayer. He spoke towards social distancing and the carrying of masks and questioned the efficacy of vaccines. He even despatched samples from bicycle lubricant, papaya fruit and a quail hen to be examined for the coronavirus in his bid to discredit testing.

“International locations in Africa can be coming right here to purchase meals within the years to return … they are going to be struggling due to shutting down their financial system,” he mentioned of others imposing lockdowns.

Magufuli promoted herbs and train as COVID-19 cures.

Nonetheless, individuals leaving Tanzania reported that intensive care items in hospitals had been filling up with individuals with extreme respiratory sickness. Others mentioned that burials had been being held at evening to cover the numbers of deaths. Migrants from Tanzania had been discovered to have COVID-19 . Authorities officers denied most of those accounts, and well being officers who reported issues associated to COVID-19 had been fired.

Critics say Magufuli’s legacy can be turning a rustic beforehand praised for its tolerance and relative stability right into a extra repressive state. Below founding president Julius Nyerere, Tanzania was an influential nation because the host of pan-African liberation teams together with Nelson Mandela’s African Nationwide Congress.

“Tanzania has weaponized the regulation to the purpose that nobody actually is aware of when they’re on the best or mistaken facet of it,” Deprose Muchena, an Amnesty Worldwide official in Africa, mentioned of Magufuli’s rule in an October 2020 report.

Politicians had been arrested for holding or attending conferences, on-line activism was criminalized and non-governmental organizations had been stifled with limitless laws, that report mentioned.

Zitto Kabwe, chief of the opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency celebration, mentioned he had been arrested 16 occasions since Magufuli got here to energy.

Lissu, Magufuli’s important opponent and challenger within the 2020 polls, complained that safety forces interfered along with his marketing campaign. His celebration’s places of work had been fire-bombed and dozens of parliamentary candidates had been disqualified. Tens of hundreds of opposition electoral brokers weren’t accredited by the electoral fee, successfully denying them entry to ballot facilities to confirm outcomes. On the eve of the election 11 individuals had been shot useless by safety forces, 9 of them in Zanzibar as they protested alleged election fraud.

Regardless of the repression, Magufuli’s supporters say he was targeted on Tanzania’s financial success and sought to implement formidable initiatives that might elevate extra of his individuals out of poverty. Scores of infrastructure applications, together with trains and the revival of Air Tanzania, had been launched underneath Magufuli’s reign. Tanzania is among the fastest-growing economies on the planet, and in July the World Financial institution categorized it as a middle-income nation 5 years forward of schedule.

“We had envisaged attaining this standing by 2025 however, with robust dedication, this has been attainable in 2020,” Magufuli tweeted on the time.

Magufuli’s survivors embrace a spouse and two youngsters.

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