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Tanzania’s populist president John on Maguful has died at the age of 61

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NAKURU, Kenya (AP) – The death of Tanzanian President John on Magopuli, a prominent COVID-19 pessimist in Africa whose populist government has often focused its East African country on international attention, has died. He was 61 years old.

Magululi’s death was announced on Wednesday by Vice President Samia Suluhi, who said the president had died of heart failure.

“Our beloved president passed away at 6 o’clock in the evening,” Sulhuhi said on national television. “All the flags will be placed on the hemisphere within 14 days. This is sad news. “The president has had this disease for the last 10 years.”

The vice president said Magululi died at Dar es Salaam Hospital in the Indian Ocean port, Tanzania’s largest city.

Although the vice president said Magufuli’s death was due to heart failure, opposition politicians had previously claimed he had COVID-19.

Magufuli has not been seen in public since late February, with senior government officials denying he was ill, even as rumors circulated online that he was ill and possibly ill.

Maguful was one of the most prominent deniers of COVID-19 in Africa. He said last year that Tanzania had eradicated the disease through a three-day national prayer. Since April 2020, Tanzania has not reported confirmed cases of COVID-19 deaths to African health authorities.

The death toll from respiratory problems has reportedly risen, with the US Embassy warning earlier this month of a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in Tanzania since January. A few days later, the presidency announced the death of Magufuli Secretary General John on Kidzazi. The death was soon announced – the vice-president of the semi-independent autonomous island of Anzibar, whose political party had earlier said he had COVID-19.

Critics have argued that Magupuli’s rejection of the COVID-19 threat, as well as his refusal to block the country, as others in the region have done, may have led to many unknown deaths.

It is difficult to assess how the majority of Tanzanians react to Magufuli’s COVID-19 pessimism, in a country where he remained popular for his seemingly outspoken anti-corruption rhetoric, despite increasing political restrictions. claimed the authoritarian series. Earlier this week, police arrested at least one person accused of spreading false information about Magululi’s health.

Maguful, who was re-elected president in 2015, was serving a second five-year term, winning the 2020 election, which some opposition human rights groups say is neither free nor fair. His main rival in that race, Tundu Lisu, had to move to Belgium after voting for fear for his safety. Lisu, who was one of the first to speak out about Magufuli’s whereabouts after missing for several days, was shot 16 times in 2017, blaming government agents for criticizing the president.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, Magululi has become so powerful that he can deny the existence of the epidemic without being criticized by his predecessor in Tanzania or other celebrities. In early 2021, amid speculation that Magufuli would run for a third unconstitutional term when his term expires in 2025, his ruling Chama Cha Mapinduz party was forced to deny that such a thing could happen.

Pom Pombe Magulu was born on October 29, 1959 in the village of Chateau in the northwest of the country. He was the son of a subsistence farmer, he grazed his father’s cattle, but he was a good student, looking at classroom studies as a way out of poverty. Magufuli received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and chemistry from Dar es Salaam University in 1988. Much later, in 2009, he received a doctorate in chemistry from the same university.

For many years he was a high school teacher, then a chemist farmers’ cooperative, before entering politics as a lawmaker representing Chaton in the National Assembly. The legislative role was a springboard for a career in national politics; he served in several government positions, most notably as a former Minister of Public Works, Akaya Kikvete’s bulldozer.

The reputation of being a non-corrupt person was widely regarded as one of the reasons for the election of Chama Cha Mappinduzi as the new leader of a party that had dominated Tanzania since independence but was largely declining in popularity over allegations of corruption.

In 2015, the newly elected Magufuli made headlines during his first day in office. He came to the offices of the Ministry of Finance unannounced in the morning to see how many officials came to work on time. That week, he also banned unnecessary directing from government officials as a way to save money. He soon canceled Independence Day celebrations, saying the funds would be used to improve roads and infrastructure in the commercial capital, Dar es Salaam. In his anti-corruption crusade, Maguful ousted a number of high-ranking officials.

At least in the first days of his presidency, Maguful was perceived as necessary by the Tanzanian leader. He was greatly admired by the people of Tanzania, as well as by other people in East Africa, who, citing his tough stance on corruption, wanted a leader like him. But others soon showed signs of intolerance when Maguful harassed dissidents, those who criticized his methods.

In early 2016, Magoufouli stopped live broadcasts of parliamentary debates in which the opposition criticized the government, and in July of that year he banned political rallies.

Magululi’s strict rule extended to the country’s LBGT community, and his government prevented aid agencies from supporting homosexual groups to prevent the spread of HIV / AIDS.

Amnesty International has criticized Magululi-backed laws aimed at “stifling all forms of dissent, effectively restricting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”.

But it was Magufuli’s rejection of COVID-19 that caught his international attention.

In March 2020, shortly after the first outbreak of the disease in Tanzania, Magufuli called on people to go to churches and mosques to pray. Magulu, a devout Catholic, said that “the coronavirus is the devil … և cannot sit in the body of Christ.” Then in April the country stopped cooperating with the international community on its COVID-19 burden.

In June, Magufuli announced that COVID-19 had been eradicated from Tanzania in a three-day national prayer. He spoke out against social distance, against wearing masks, and questioned the effectiveness of vaccines. In an attempt to discredit the experiments, he even sent samples of bicycle lubricant, papaya fruit and quail to detect the coronavirus.

“African countries will come here to buy food in the coming years … they will suffer because of the cessation of their economies,” he said, adding that other countries are imposing sanctions.

Magufuli promoted herbs և exercises as COVID-19 remedies.

However, people leaving Tanzania reported that hospital intensive care units were filled with people with severe respiratory illnesses. Others said funerals were held at night to hide deaths. COVID-19 was found in migrants from Tanzania. Government officials denied most of these reports, and health officials who reported problems with COVID-19 were fired.

Critics say Magoufouli’s legacy will make the country more repressive for its previously praised tolerance for relative stability. During the reign of its founding president, Julius Nirera, Tanzania was an influential country hosting pan-African liberation groups, including Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress.

“Tanzania has armed itself to the point where no one really knows when they are on the right or wrong side of it,” said Deproz Muchena, Amnesty International’s Africa director, in an October 2020 report on Magufuli’s government.

Politicians have been arrested for holding or attending meetings, online activity has been criminalized, and NGOs have been suffocated by endless regulations, the report said.

Zito Kabwe, leader of the opposition Transparency Alliance, said he had been arrested 16 times since Magufuli came to power.

Lisu, Magufuli’s main opponent and rival in the 2020 polls, complained that security forces had interfered with his campaign. His party’s offices were bombed and dozens of parliamentary candidates disqualified. Tens of thousands of opposition election agents have not been accredited by the election commission, effectively denying them access to polling stations to verify the results. On the eve of the election, 11 people were shot dead by security forces, nine of them in Zanzibar, as they protested against alleged electoral fraud.

Despite the crackdown, Magoufuli’s supporters say he was focused on Tanzania’s economic prosperity, pursuing ambitious projects that would lift most of his people out of poverty. Numerous infrastructure projects, including trains և the renaissance of Air Tanzania, were launched during the Magufuli era. Tanzania is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with the World Bank classifying it as a middle-income country five years ahead of schedule in July.

“We had planned to reach that status by 2025, but with strong determination it was possible in 2020,” Magufuli wrote at the time.

Among Magufuli survivors are a woman and two children.

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Muhumuza made his contribution from Kampala, Uganda.

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