NAKURU, Kenya – President John Magufuli of Tanzania, a prominent COVID-19 skeptic in Africa whose populist rule often occupies his East African country in a harsh international spotlight, has died. He was 61 years old

Magufuli’s death was announced on Wednesday by Vice President Samia Suluhu, who said the president died of heart failure

“Our beloved president passed away at 6pm tonight,” Suluhu said on national television. “All flags are hoisted at half-mast for 14 days. It is sad news The president has had this disease for 10 years”

The Vice President said Magufuli died in a hospital in Dar es Salaam, the port in the Indian Ocean, the largest city in Tanzania

Although the vice president said the cause of death for Magufuli was heart failure, opposition politicians had previously claimed he had COVID-19

Magufuli had not been seen publicly since late February, and senior government officials had denied he was in poor health, despite rumors surfacing online that he was ill and possibly incapacitated

Magufuli was one of the most famous deniers of COVID-19 in Africa He had said last year Tanzania eradicated the disease through three days of national prayer Tanzania has not had any COVID-19 reports of confirmed cases and deaths to African health authorities since April 2020 reported

But the death toll of people with breathing problems has reportedly increased, and earlier this month the US. The embassy warned of a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Tanzania since January days later, the presidency announced the death of John Kijazi, Magufuli’s chief secretary, soon after the death, the vice-president of the semi-autonomous island region of Zanzibar was announced, its political The party had previously reported that he had COVID-19

Critics accused Magufuli’s disapproval of the COVID-19 threat, as well as his refusal to lockdown the country like others in the region, contributed to many unknown deaths

It is difficult to gauge how most Tanzanians viewed Magufuli’s COVID-19 skepticism in a country where he remained genuinely popular with many for his seemingly open speech against corruption, despite restricting political freedoms and becoming an increasingly authoritarian one Stand up Police arrested at least one man earlier this week who was accused of providing false information about Magufuli’s health

Magufuli was first elected to the presidency in 2015 and served a second five-year term he won in the 2020 elections The opposition and some right-wing groups said they were neither free nor fair.His main opponent in this race, Tundu Lissu, had to move to Belgium after the vote for fear for his safety Lissu, who was one of the first to ask questions about Magufuli’s whereabouts after He had disappeared for several days and was shot 16 times in 2017, an attack he accused government agents of criticizing the president for criticizing the president

Magufuli had become so powerful at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak that he could deny the existence of a pandemic without criticizing his predecessor and other prominent figures in Tanzania in early 2021, his ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi was forced to deny that such a thing could happen, as it has been speculated that Magufuli would seek an unconstitutional third term after his mandate expires in 2025

John Pombe Magufuli was born on October 29, 1959, in the rural area of ​​Chato in the northwest of the country.As the son of a subsistence farmer, he looked after his father’s cattle but was a good student and saw a way out of the class in the classroom Armut Magufuli earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and chemistry from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1988. Much later, in 2009, he received a PhD in chemistry from the same university

He was a high school teacher for years and then a chemist at a farmers’ cooperative before entering politics as a legislator who represented Chato in the National Assembly, the legislative role was a stepping stone to a career in national politics, and so did he worked in various cabinet positions, in particular as a diligent minister for public works with the nickname “Bulldozer” in the administration of his predecessor Jakaya Kikwete

The reputation of an incorruptible man was widely seen as a reason for his election as the new leader of Chama Cha Mapinduzi, the party that had dominated Tanzania since independence but whose popularity declined in large part due to allegations of rampant corruption. p>
In 2015, the newly elected Magufuli announced news on his first day in office.He appeared unannounced at the Treasury Office that morning to see how many officials had got to work on time, and that week he also banned unnecessary travel by government officials as Austerity Measure He soon canceled the Independence Day celebrations and said the funds earmarked for the event would be used to improve roads and infrastructure in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital. Magufuli also sacked a number of senior government officials in his anti-corruption crusade

At least in the early days of his presidency, Magufuli was seen as the leader Tanzania needed. He was widely admired by Tanzanians and others in East Africa who, citing his tough stance on corruption, wanted a leader like him But very quickly others saw signs of intolerance when Magufuli took action against dissidents and those who criticized his working methods

In early 2016, Magufuli stopped broadcasting live parliamentary debates in which the opposition criticized the government, and in July of this year he banned political rallies

Magufuli’s strict rule was extended to the country’s LBGT community, and his government prevented aid agencies from supporting same-sex groups to prevent the spread of HIV / AIDS

Amnesty International criticized several Magufuli-sponsored bills and passed laws to “suppress all forms of dissent and effectively restrict freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”

Shortly after the first case of the disease was confirmed in Tanzania in March 2020, Magufuli urged people to pray in churches and mosques. Magufuli, a devout Catholic, stated, “Coronavirus is a devil and cannot be in the body of Christ Then, in April, the country stopped working with the international community on the COVID-19 case number

Magufuli announced in June that COVID-19 had been eradicated from Tanzania by three days of national prayer He spoke out against social distancing and the wearing of masks and questioned the effectiveness of vaccines He even sent samples of bicycle lubricant, Papaya fruits and a quail bird to test them for the coronavirus to discredit tests

“Countries in Africa will come here to buy groceries in the years to come they will suffer because they shut down their economy, “he said of others who impose bans

People leaving Tanzania reported that intensive care units in hospitals were filling up with people with severe respiratory illnesses, however, others said funerals were held at night to hide the number of deaths Tanzanian migrants had COVID-19 government officials denied most of those accounts, and health officials reporting issues related to COVID-19, have been laid off
Critics say Magufuli’s legacy will transform a country previously praised for its tolerance and relative stability into a more repressive state Under founding President Julius Nyerere, Tanzania was an influential country hosting pan-African liberation groups, including the African National Congress of Nelson Mandela

“Tanzania has armed the law so far that no one really knows when it is on the right or wrong side,” said Deprose Muchena, an Amnesty International official in Africa, in an October 2020 report on Magufuli’s rule / p>

Politicians have been arrested for holding or attending meetings, online activism has been criminalized, and NGOs have been repressed with endless regulations, the report said

Zitto Kabwe, leader of the opposition party Alliance for Change and Transparency, said he has been arrested 16 times since Magufuli came to power

Lissu, Magufuli’s main antagonist and challenger in the 2020 polls, complained that security forces disrupted his campaign, his party’s offices were bombed and dozens of parliamentary candidates were disqualified, tens of thousands of opposition voters were not accredited by the electoral commission, giving them access to Polling stations refused to check the results On the eve of the election, eleven people were shot dead by security forces, nine of them in Zanzibar, while protesting alleged electoral fraud

Despite the repression, Magufuli’s supporters said he was focused on Tanzania’s economic success, trying to implement ambitious projects that would lift more people out of poverty, numerous infrastructure programs were launched under Magufuli’s reign, including trains and revitalization Air Tanzania Tanzania is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and in July the World Bank classified it as a middle-income country five years ahead of schedule

“We set out to achieve this status by 2025, but with great determination it was possible in 2020,” tweeted Magufuli at the time

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World News – CA – Tanzania’s populist President John Magufuli has died at the age of 61