Tanzania’s President Magufuli is dead | Free press

Populist President Magufuli polarized: he downplayed the danger of the corona virus in his country. When he disappeared from the public eye, the world speculated about Covid-19 disease.

Dar es Salaam (dpa) – There was speculation about his health condition for days – now Tanzanian President John Magufuli has passed away.

Contrary to popular belief, the cause of his death on Wednesday was apparently not Covid 19 disease, but the result of heart failure, as Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced. The head of state had previously disappeared for a long time, sparking speculation about a Covid 19 disease. The increasingly autocratic Magufuli had long downplayed the danger of the coronavirus in the East African country and caused worldwide criticism with provocative and dubious statements.

Following the death of Magufuli, the vice president will, according to the constitution, hold the highest office in the country until the next elections in 2025. According to Hassan, Magufuli had suffered from a chronic heart rhythm disorder for more than a decade. With this she counteracted rumors about Covid 19 disease. For example, opposition politician Tundu Lissu, who lives in exile, recently sparked speculation, tweeting, “With his devastating denial of Covid, his madness of prayer rather than science has turned out to be a deadly boomerang.”

The politician was born in 1959 in Chato in the northwest of the country and came to power in 2015. Since then, it has become polarized in the country with its approximately 58 million inhabitants. Called the “bulldozer” for his uncompromising management style, his supporters considered him a strong statesman who, for example, drove the country’s development with major infrastructure projects and defended Tanzania’s interests with confidence. However, the human rights situation under Magufuli has deteriorated significantly. Critics and human rights activists condemned his increasing restrictions on freedom of the press and expression, as well as the work of opposition groups.

Recently, however, his approach to the corona pandemic has had a lasting impact on Magufuli’s reputation. He questioned the credibility of corona tests and recommended prayers and steam baths. Magufuli urged the Ministry of Health to be cautious about vaccines developed abroad, wondering how they could have been developed so quickly. The former German colony has not published the number of new infections since May 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) repeatedly called on Tanzania to step up the fight against the corona virus.

On social media, many expressed the hope that the approach to the corona pandemic in Tanzania would change after the death of Magufuli. “I shudder to think how many Tanzanians have died / will die as a direct result of his position on Covid-19,” wrote one Twitter user. A spokesman for the US State Department, Ned Price, said the US would continue to support the people of Tanzania to advocate for respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the fight against the pandemic. “We hope that Tanzania will continue to walk the path of democracy and prosperity.”

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