John Magufuli, Tanzania Leader Who Played Down Covid, Dies at 61

NAIROBI, Kenya — President John Magufuli of Tanzania, a populist chief who performed down the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and steered his region absent from democratic beliefs, died on Wednesday in the port town of Dar es Salaam. He was 61.

Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan claimed in a quick televised address that Mr. Magufuli had died of coronary heart troubles though being handled at Mzena Medical center. The announcement followed far more than a week of intense speculation that Mr. Magufuli was critically sick with Covid-19 — reviews that senior governing administration officials experienced frequently denied.

Ms. Hassan did not specify Mr. Magufuli’s underlying disease but said that he had endured from serious atrial fibrillation for much more than a ten years. She announced 14 times of nationwide mourning and stated that flags would fly at half-employees nationwide.

In accordance to the Tanzanian Structure, Ms. Hassan will be sworn in as president to provide the remainder of the 5-12 months phrase that Mr. Magufuli began when he received re-election very last Oct. The move will make her Tanzania’s initially female leader.

Mr. Magufuli, a qualified chemist, was very first elected in October 2015 on an anticorruption platform. He was initially lauded for his initiatives to bolster the economy, stem wasteful investing and update Tanzania’s infrastructure.

But the chief, commonly recognised as “the Bulldozer,” was shortly accused of muzzling dissent, rolling back freedom of expression and affiliation, and pushing via legal guidelines that shored up his Get together of the Revolution’s grip on ability.

That marked a sharp departure from policies of his two speedy predecessors, who had promoted their East African country as a tranquil, business enterprise-friendly democracy.

All through his first expression, Mr. Magufuli’s government banned opposition rallies, revoked the licenses of nongovernmental businesses and released regulations that critics stated repressed unbiased reporting. He also claimed that expecting girls should really not be allowed in faculty.

Rights groups accused his governing administration of failing to have out credible investigations into the killings, abductions and persecution of journalists who were important of the federal government and opposition figures.

As Mr. Magufuli sought a 2nd term very last tumble, the authorities made it more difficult for opposition functions to campaign, froze the lender accounts of civil culture groups, denied accreditation to election observers and journalists, and refused to let opposition associates into polling stations.

Updated 

March 19, 2021, 8:12 p.m. ET

On voting working day, at minimum 10 people had been killed when violence broke out in the semiautonomous archipelago of Zanzibar following citizens said they had viewed troopers delivering marked ballots.

Mr. Magufuli won that election with 84 p.c of the vote amid accusations of common fraud and irregularities. Tundu Lissu, the main opposition prospect operating in opposition to him, was accused of trying to overthrow the federal government and experienced to depart the region. He stays in exile in Belgium.

Above the previous year, Mr. Magufuli came under intensive criticism at house and overseas for his dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic. He railed towards masks and social distancing, promoted unproven solutions as cures and mentioned that God had assisted the state remove the virus.

Tanzania has not shared knowledge on the coronavirus with the Globe Health Corporation due to the fact April, and it has described just 509 scenarios and 21 deaths, figures that have been greatly considered with skepticism.

As vaccine rollouts started worldwide, Mr. Magufuli discouraged the Health Ministry from securing doses for Tanzania.

“Vaccines really don’t operate,” he claimed in a speech to a maskless group in late January. “If the white male was capable to occur up with vaccinations, then vaccines for AIDS would have been brought. Vaccines for tuberculosis would have created it a thing of the previous. Vaccines for malaria would have been located. Vaccines for most cancers would have been located.”

This kind of statements drew condemnation from the Planet Health Firm as perfectly as the Roman Catholic Church in Tanzania. Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the W.H.O. regional director for Africa, urged the Tanzanian governing administration to put together the infrastructure to distribute the doses, writing on Twitter, “Science exhibits that #VaccinesWork.”

In February, the United States Embassy in Tanzania warned of “a considerable improve in the range of Covid-19 cases” and mentioned that “limited clinic capability through Tanzania could consequence in lifetime-threatening delays for emergency health-related treatment.”

Mr. Magufuli’s loss of life came just days following speculation that he was ill with the virus. The rumors begun swirling after Mr. Lissu, the opposition determine in exile, said that the president had Covid-19 and was staying handled in a hospital in neighboring Kenya.

Mr. Lissu urged the authorities to disclose the whereabouts of the president, who experienced not been seen in public for pretty much two weeks. Mr. Magufuli did not show up at a virtual summit for leaders of the East African regional bloc on Feb. 27.

Tanzanian officers experienced dismissed the speculation and explained that Mr. Magufuli was working as usual.

Just after Mr. Magufuli’s death was declared on Wednesday, the leader of opposition get together Act Wazalendo referred to as on Tanzanians to exhibit “patience and understanding” as the country undergoes a vital transitional time period.

“This is an unprecedented instant,” the opposition party leader, Zitto Kabwe, explained in a statement, “one that will without doubt transfer us all in quite own approaches.”

John Pombe Joseph Magufuli was born on Oct. 29, 1959, in the district of Chato in what is now northwestern Tanzania and was then recognized as Tanganyika. He gained a bachelor’s diploma in education and learning from the College of Dar es Salaam and, in 2009, a doctorate in chemistry from the exact college, according to the presidential office’s site.

Ahead of starting to be president, he was a member of Tanzania’s Parliament and held a selection of cabinet posts. He formulated a standing for combating corruption whilst working in cabinet positions, together with as the minister of lands, fisheries and public operates.

Mr. Magufuli is survived by his spouse, Janet, a most important-university teacher and two children.