- He has not seen Tanzanian President John Magufuli for 17 days, sparking rumors about his health condition.
- Magufuli declared Tanzania free of Covid last May and stopped releasing data. He refused vaccinations.
- Media reports and allegations from an opposition figure fueled rumors that he had become seriously ill from Covid-19.
- See more stories on the Insider business page.
Dar es Salaam – Tanzanian President John Magufuli, the most prominent denier of the Coronavirus in Africa, disappeared from sight 17 days ago. Now, it is widely rumored that he is seriously ill with the same virus that has rejected it and downplayed its importance over the past year.
Last May, Magufuli Advertise That “Tanzania has overcome the Coronavirus” after ordering the national prayer for three days. The president abruptly stopped updating the number of cases and assured foreign tourists that Tanzania’s game parks and Indian Ocean resorts were open for business, triggering a wave of travel. Warnings And travelers are warned to avoid the country.
Since then, he has mocked wearing masks, criticized regional neighbors for imposing lockdowns, and rejected coronavirus vaccines until his government independently verifies them. In early January, Magufuli told the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, that “there is no coronavirus in Tanzania.”
Majufuli then disappeared from public view after appearing at a party in the commercial capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, on February 24th.
This week, the leading newspaper in neighboring Kenya, The Daily Nation, Wrote: “A leader of an African country who has not appeared in public for nearly two weeks has been admitted to a Nairobi hospital to receive treatment for Covid-19, even as his government remains silent about his whereabouts.”
Within hours, speculation spread that Magufuli was secretly flown to Nairobi for emergency medical attention and was later flown for treatment in India. Insider was unable to confirm these reports.
“Latest update from Nairobi”, Tanzanian opposition leader Tendo Lissou chirp this week.
TunduALissu – March 10, 2021
After contacting Insider, Lissu repeated the claim but did not provide evidence.
“Over the past month, the country has lost university professors, army generals, doctors, lawyers, engineers and other professionals of high public standing,” Leso told Insider. “It is extremely irresponsible, and in my opinion a criminal, for the president to continue to deny the existence of the Coronavirus, to refuse international assistance and to refuse vaccinations.”
Dozens of Tanzanians and neighboring Kenyans have taken to social media to demand answers, with the hashtag #WhereIsMagufuli trending on Twitter in both countries.
On Friday, government officials took up the rumors for the first time and insisted that Magufuli was still alive and well, but they did not provide any evidence.
“President Magufuli is in good health and is continuing his normal duties,” Prime Minister Qassem Majaliwa said in a statement from his office. “I spoke to (Magufuli) today, and he sends you his greetings,” Majaliwa insisted.
In a separate statement, Mbeya district commissioner, southern Tanzania, Albert Chalamela, told reporters on Friday: “I spoke with President John Magufuli on the phone this morning … He is very strong and is continuing his work.”
“We want an explanation, not threats.”
Tanzania confirmed its first case of coronavirus in March 2020, but a month later Majufuli – who holds a PhD in chemistry – questioned the accuracy of the test results. The cumulative cases reached 480 people and 16 deaths from the Coronavirus were reported by April 29, but Magufuli ordered the country’s health ministry to stop issuing updates.
On February 27, three days after his last public appearance, the government announced that Magufuli had sworn in a senior government official and attended a virtual regional summit of the East African Community (EAC) trade bloc.
It was later revealed that Magufuli did not, in fact, attend the EAC summit after all, and was instead liked by his deputy, Samia Solo Hassan.
Since then, Magufuli has remained conspicuously absent from public opinion, absent from regular church attendance on Sundays for two consecutive weeks, which is strange for a devout Catholic.
On the streets of Dar es Salaam, Magufuli’s unexplained absence was a source of anxiety and frustration for many of the city’s residents.
“Instead of telling us the truth about Magufuli’s whereabouts, government ministers have issued threats against social media users. We want an explanation, not threats,” taxi driver Innocent Moshi told Insider.
The death of the First Vice President of Zanzibar last month, Seif Sharif HamadDays after announcing his admission to the hospital due to the virus, the death of the chief of the Magufuli’s office at the presidential headquarters and the head of the civil service, John Kigazi, due to an unspecified disease, revealed what worries many, which is the true extent of the epidemic.
“I renew my call for Tanzania to start reporting COVID-19 cases and sharing data,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement on February 20. To break transmission chains and prepare for immunization. “
There have been reports of local hospitals being overwhelmed by patients showing symptoms of Covid-19, and shortages of critical care beds, oxygen and ventilators in the country’s major towns and cities. The government denies these reports.
Unlike other East African countries, which have urged social distancing and encouraged the use of masks, it was business as usual in Tanzania. Public buses are crowded with commuters, with a few of them wearing masks, while bars and nightclubs fill with revelers. Domestic league matches continue at football stadiums and music festivals across the country, and are usually full of capacity.
Magufuli continued to eschew modern medicine and preventive methods such as wearing masks and social distancing. Instead, it has aggressively promoted unproven traditional remedies such as steam inhalation, ginger ale, garlic, onion and lemonade as the government’s official line of treatment and prevention of the virus.
Some hospitals have incorporated these treatments into their treatment protocols for patients showing symptoms of the Coronavirus.
Prayer, steam and herbs
During his five years in power, Magufuli ruled Tanzania with an iron fist, unlike the gentle touch of his predecessor, Jakaya Kikwete, and turned the formerly progressive East African country of 60 million into one of Africa’s most repressive and secretive nations. Critics say. .
Under his leadership, the government arrested opposition leaders and activists and restricted protests. In 2017, a privately owned weekly newspaper closed. Only the president and three public officials are authorized to release data on COVID-19 and talk about the epidemic.
In January, Magufuli refused coronavirus vaccines while other countries around the world sought vaccinations, saying he would not allow his own citizens to be used as guinea pigs. “Vaccines are not good. If the eggs were able to bring in these vaccines, they would have brought vaccines against AIDS, cancer or malaria,” he said in the word.
Government spokesman Hassan Abbasi last month retracted allegations that Tanzania was virus-free, changing the new official account to “we got the virus under control.”
Leaders of the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Church in recent weeks have begun to resist the denial of the Magufuli virus, urging the government to take the disease seriously.
Early this month, Charles Kitima, who leads the Association of Catholic Bishops, told reporters in Dar es Salaam that more than 25 priests and 60 nuns had died across the country in the past two months from various causes, including “breathing difficulties.” Which has become a euphemism for Corona virus.
Leso, the leader of the opposition, made the most of this moment.
“It is a sad comment on the (Magufuli) administration of our country that it has reached this point: that he himself had to acquire COVID-19 and take it to Kenya to prove that prayers, steam inhalation and other unproven herbal formulas that he advocated have no protection against Coronavirus.”