John Magufuli: Did Tanzania’s Covid-denying chief die of the coronavirus? It is considered one of many questions he leaves behind

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Samia Suluhu Hassan mentioned Magufuli had been receiving remedy in a Tanzanian hospital when he died on Wednesday night.

Nevertheless, opposition leaders insist Magufuli died of Covid-19 at the very least one week earlier.

Tundu Lissu, of the Chadema opposition get together, mentioned in an interview with a Kenyan broadcaster Thursday that Magufuli had died from Covid in early March.

“I received news of President Magufuli’s passing without any surprise,” he added.

“I had expected this all along, from the first day I tweeted on March 7… when I asked the question ‘Where is President Magufuli and what is his state of health?’ I had information from very credible sources in the government that the president was gravely ill with Covid-19 and his situation was actually very bad,” Lissu mentioned from his base in Belgium. CNN has contacted Lissu for additional remark.

CNN has been unable to independently confirm his claims. Tanzanian authorities additionally didn’t reply to requires touch upon Lissu’s claims.

Magufuli was final seen in public on February 27, fueling intense hypothesis about his well being. Officers, nonetheless, insisted he was wholesome.
“Tanzanians should be at peace. Your president is around, thanks for voting strongly for him recently. He is healthy, working hard, planning for the country,” Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa was quoted as saying in native media March 12.

The secrecy and thriller shrouding his dying is telling about Magufuli’s enduring legacy, says Maria Sarungi Tsehai, activist and founding father of the #ChangeTanzania motion, a civil society group selling free speech.

Tsehai mentioned that the circumstances of his dying and the “secrecy and intimidation” that residents face for speculating or discussing it’s “very telling about the kind of presidency he ran.”

“Even now in his death, people are still terrified and talking in hushed tones,” Tsehai mentioned.

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Magufuli was Tanzania’s fifth president and a part of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) get together that has dominated the nation since independence in 1961.

Now that he’s gone, Tanzania is left in flux. Many consider the nation is preventing a virulent second wave of Covid. Nevertheless, the studies are largely anecdotal as Tanzania stopped reporting Covid knowledge to world well being authorities, such because the World Well being Group.

The final reported figures of 509 instances and 21 deaths had been in April final 12 months.

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Magufuli annoyed world well being leaders after he suspended nationwide monitoring of Covid instances — blaming the nation’s an infection toll on faulty check kits.

Final Might, he claimed that non-human samples which had been randomly collected from a pawpaw, a goat, and sheep — utilizing imported Covid-19 check kits — returned optimistic check outcomes for the virus when despatched to the nation’s laboratory, whose handlers had been reportedly unaware of the supply of the samples.

Magufuli’s dying has raised many questions on how the nation strikes ahead in a pandemic with a large data vacuum.

Magufuli made no bids for Covid vaccines as he queried its security and as a substitute promoted the usage of prayers, natural remedies and steam inhalation to fight the illness.

Tsehai says the lack of expertise makes it tough for healthcare staff and residents to know what the true scenario is. Her group ran an off-the-cuff survey to get a “snapshot” of the Covid scenario within the nation final 12 months.

“We are seeing more obituaries, death announcements, and that more people are leaving us. There are elderly people and those in their 50s. Parents are also telling us that children are being admitted to hospital with breathing problems,” she mentioned.

Nevertheless, modifications are removed from imminent, added Tsehai. “Nothing will happen immediately. We have to wait and see what Samia (Hassan) can do.”

On Friday, Hassan was sworn in because the nation’s first feminine president.

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Now, the brand new chief wants to pick out a vice presidential candidate and type a cupboard, Tsehai mentioned.

“We are very worried. She needs to act now. The ceremony and burial and last rites ceremony are going to be Covid super spreader events,” Tsehai added.

Combating Covid with prayers

Magufuli was devoutly spiritual and a rabid Covid-19 denier who repeatedly downplayed the severity of Covid-19 in Tanzania, whereas declaring the nation free from the virus final June after three days of mass prayers.

He refused to shut church buildings, referred to as on residents to affix extra mass prayer days and described the virus as “satanic.”

“Let’s pray and fast for three days I am sure we will win… today for the Muslims who have already begun, tomorrow the Seventh Day Adventists who pray on Saturdays and on Sunday for Christians,” Magufuli mentioned on February 19.

“God has never forsaken this nation. We won last year and graduated to middle-income status amid coronavirus,” he added.

Deus Valentine Rweyemamu, who heads the Middle for Strategic Litigation, a pro-democracy motion in Tanzania, informed CNN that Magufuli failed to offer management in his dealing with of the pandemic.

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“President Magufuli hid behind religious fundamentalism and managed to sway an entire nation into denialism. His only recorded public address on Covid has half of it made up of Bible verses,” Rweyemamu mentioned.

Nevertheless, spiritual leaders had been amongst his fiercest critics.

Father Charles Kitima, Secretary of the Tanzania Episcopal Convention, a bunch of Catholic bishops, informed CNN Thursday that the Magufuli regime didn’t take pressing steps in dealing with the coronavirus.

Kitima, who had been a vocal critic of Tanzania’s Covid response beneath Magufuli, mentioned some members of the Catholic Church in Tanzania could have died from Covid-related issues.

“Some members of the church had breathing complications and died out of that,” he informed CNN.

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“As for the months from mid-December 2020 to February 2021, we lost 25 priests and 60 nuns… Some of these died because of breathing difficulties,” he mentioned.

He added that the amount of infections within the nation couldn’t be ascertained because of the lack of testing.

Kitima faulted Magufuli’s Covid response, which relied largely on faith whereas neglecting scientific suggestions.

“You cannot separate prayer from science. Religion is there to support the doctors and researchers. Science and faith must work together,” Kitima informed CNN.

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Rweyemamu informed CNN that many Tanzanians trusted Magufuli’s — albeit unconventional — strategies.

“If President Magufuli were to appear in public wearing a mask then even Tanzania’s sickest dog would wear one. This is because… Tanzanians believe in their president more than in their own parents,” he added.

Mussa Khamis, a venture officer at Good Neighbors, a non-profit humanitarian group in Tanzania, informed CNN: “While some of my friends and relatives inhaled steam to fight this pandemic… I took care of myself by observing prevention measures advised by WHO and other medical experts.”

The 26-year-old resident of Tanzania’s semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar mentioned the existence of Covid-19 had begun to resonate with many Tanzanians following the passing of Zanzibar’s Vice President, Seif Sharif Hamad, who died in February after contracting the virus.

Hamad was open about his sickness, which he made public three weeks earlier than his dying.

“People now wear masks and wash their hands frequently. I think this is motivated by the recent loss of our vice president,” Khamis mentioned.

The tip of the Magufuli period is anticipated to usher in a brand new nationwide perspective on Covid-19.

Nevertheless, it stays to be seen if it will likely be enterprise as typical for Tanzania’s new chief or if she is going to change tack and make room for science to thrive because the pandemic rages.