TANZANIAN President John Magufuli has died at a hospital in Dar es Salaam hospital.
Annoucing the sad event on state television on Wednesday night, the Vice-President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, said Magufuli died of heart failure at 6 pm local time at the Mzena Hospital. He was 61.
Africa Briefing understands that Magufuli, who had been using a pacemaker for some time, also contracted Covid-19, which might have caused complications with his heart condition.
Magufuli was last seen in public at an event on February 27 and his absence caused widespread speculation about the state of his health, with some Tanzanians expressing fear and anxiety due to the unknown status of the president. On Tuesday, an opposition leader urged the government to tell the public about the president’s health, saying citizens had the right to know about his condition.
Zitto Kabwe, leader of the ACT-Wazalendo party said, ‘The president’s health is not supposed to be a secret,’ recalling that Tanzanians received regular updates on the health of two former presidents, Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete, when they were abroad for medical treatment.
Magufuli had mocked global panic over the Covid-19 pandemic and played down the virus’s threat in Tanzania. He denounced Covid-19 tests, denounced vaccines, and opposed mask-wearing, instead urging his people to put faith in prayer and try remedies such as steam inhalation.
Africa Briefing will examine Magufuli’s legacy later this week. Stay tuned!