News Opinions & Features March 10, 2021 at 05:09 pm

Tanzania’s Magufuli who declared ‘victory over COVID’ hospitalized with COVID, reports say

Nii Ntreh

Nii Ntreh | Associate Editor

Nii Ntreh March 10, 2021 at 05:09 pm

March 10, 2021 at 05:09 pm | News, Opinions & Features

Tanzanian President John Magufuli has been reluctant to institute preventive strict measures in control of the spread of COVID-19 in his country. Photo Credit: Tanzanian Presidency

President John Magufuli of Tanzania, who has made global news headlines for advocating lax measures in his country in spite of the pandemic, is reportedly in a hospital receiving treatment for a coronavirus infection.

The BBC reported on Wednesday that Magufuli has not made a public appearance in some time, prompting Tanzanians to ask for the whereabouts of their president. However, according to opposition leader Tundu Lissu, the president is on admission in a hospital due to COVID-19, per his (Lissu’s) sources.

Lissu explained that information available to him has it that Magufuli, 61, was flown to Kenya on Monday night but rather quietly. He also added that Magufuli may have suffered a cardiac arrest in his illness.

Nairobi Hospital which is said to be where the Tanzanian leader has been admitted refused to comment on the allegation, the BBC said.

The 53-year-old opposition leader also alleges that Philip Mpango, the Finance Minister who made a public appearance a few weeks ago but was captured on camera coughing unstoppably, has also been admitted at Nairobi Hospital.

Understandable cover of darkness

If Magufuli is truly in a hospital having been infected by the virus, it would be understandable that his treatment is under a cover of darkness. Last year, the ultraconservative leader declared a “victory” of the pandemic because of what he said were the prayers of Tanzanians.

Magufuli’s administration had declared that the country was coronavirus-free. This came after government insisted normal public life would have to go on in spite of suspected increase in cases leading up to the end of last year. Schools remained opened as did churches, the establishments Magufuli credited with the “success” of Tanzania’s fight.

“The corona disease has been eliminated thanks to God,” Magufuli once stated in a speech, apparently because of prayers. The spiritual inclination was not a joke as the government warned the American Embassy in Dar-es-Salaam to stay out of Tanzania’s internal affairs after the American envoy issued a statement in May 2020 claiming that hospitals in the commercial capital were on the verge of collapse due to admitting coronavirus-infected patients.

Magufuli did not only allege foreign conspiracies to undermine his government but also moved to crush faith in Tanzania’s scientific research community. He once stated that “probably, the technicians are also bought to mislead” on infection and mortality rates in the country. The head of the national research unit in charge of understanding Tanzania’s case count and kinds of infection was sacked after his outfit was accused of finding coronavirus in goats and pawpaw.

The government then launched an investigation into “criminal possibility at the national laboratory”. While most African countries placed restrictions on public life, Tanzania did not. Apart from full churches and mosques, stadia were also loaded with soccer fans and continue to be.

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