Did Covid Kill Magufuli? Tanzania’s Sitting President Dies Aged 61

Did Covid Kill Magufuli? Tanzania’s Sitting President Dies Aged 61

The world is in shock after the passing on of Tanzania’s President, John Pombe Magufuli. The late president is said to have died on the 17th of March 2021, at around 6.p.m. The fifth president of Tanzania leaves behind a widow, Janet Magufuli and two children. 

What Killed Magufuli?

On the evening of Wednesday March 17th, Tanzania’s Vice President announced the passing on of President Magufuli. The former president is said to have died of heart complications, but rumors circulate that Covid-19 was the main reason for his death. Tanzania will enter a 14-day period of mourning. 

Early Life of John Magufuli

Born John Joseph Magufuli on 29th October 1959, Magufuli attended Chato Primary School between 1967 and 1974. He would later attend both Katoke Seminary and Lake Secondary Schools for his secondary education. Magufuli graduated from his A-levels at Mkwawa High School in 1981 and joined Mkwawa College of Education in the same year. 

It was during this time that he briefly worked as a teacher before furthering his education at the University of Dar Es Salaam. Magufuli would later work as an Industrial Chemist at The Nyanza Cooperative Union Limited from 1989 to 1995. He was then elected as Member of Parliament  for Chato District under the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi CCM.

Achievements of John Pombe Magufuli

After joining politics in 1995, he would go on to serve in the cabinet as Deputy Minister of Works, Transport and Communications. This was until 2000 when he took over as the Minister under the same Ministry, a position he held until 2006. Magufuli would later head the Lands and Livestock Ministries, and the Works Ministry for a second time from 2010 to 2015.

When Magufuli first took office as President on November 5th, 2015, he had a strict stance on corruption and wastage of public money. 

The tough-talking President was also acclaimed for spearheading various infrastructure projects in the country. This included the Tanzania Standard Gauge Railway and the Dar Es Salaam Bus Rapid Transit.

His development agenda led to him being nicknamed “the bulldozer” and made him popular in Kenya.

In November 2019, the University of Dodoma awarded President Magufuli with an honorary doctorate degree for improving Tanzania’s economy.

Photo: Courtesy

What Criticisms Did John Magufuli’s Administration Face? 

It was during last year that Magufuli faced his greatest tests as President.

He was first criticised for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic as he declared the country free from the virus. The President instead urged his citizens to pray for the virus. The Tanzanian Government would later promote a herbal concoction as the cure for the virus.

President Magufuli would also face backlash for stifling opposition voices. This was after the October 28, 2020 General Election that was marred with irregularities, according to the US Embassy in Tanzania.

John Pombe Magufuli`s Mystery Disappearance

At the beginning of March 2021, questions were raised on the whereabouts of President Magufuli. The President had not been seen in public since February 27th when he swore in Dr Bashiru Ally as the Chief Secretary. Many then wanted to know where he could have been.

Being the nosy neighbours that we are, Kenyans were also drawn into the ‘virtual inquest’ on Magufuli’s whereabouts. 

Rumors emerged that the tough talking President was being treated for Covid-19 at the Nairobi Hospital.

However, Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa was the first Government official to talk of Magufuli since his disappearance. The PM disputed the rumors saying that the President was “healthy and continuing with his duties as usual.”

Later on Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu also issued a statement asking Tanzanians to ignore the rumors.

“Most of the rumors you hear don’t originate in Tanzania…they come from outside the country. I ask you to ignore them.”

By this time, more rumors had emerged that the President had passed on and it seemed that all was not well.

Magufuli passed on at the age of 61.

At C.O.K we send our condolences to the people of the United Republic of Tanzania.

#RipMagufuli

Nick Tembo
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