Tanzanian President John Magufuli died of the coronavirus last Wednesday, according to Tanzania’s key opposition leader Tundu Lissu.
Tanzania has been in mourning since the death of President John Magufuli, with flags flying at half-mast and 14 days of mourning declared after the vice president announced his death from heart complications on Wednesday.
Magufuli’s death comes after weeks of speculation about his health and suggestions that the coronavirus skeptic had contracted the virus.
As pressure grew on the government to justify Magufuli’s nearly three-week absence from public view, the government said he was ill.
Tanzania’s key opposition leader, Tundu Lissu, characterized Magufuli’s death as “poetic justice,” maintaining that his sources said he died of Covid-19.
“Magufuli succumbed to corona. It is one of them. Second, Magufuli did not pass away this evening. I have information that Magufuli has been dead since Wednesday of last week, based on essentially the same sources that told me he was gravely ill, “Using local slang for the virus, he told Kenya’s KTN News.
From Belgiu, where he is exiled, Lissu spoke.
“How should I respond?” It’s poetic retribution. On the battle against corona, President Magufuli defied the world… He defied the laws of physics. And what happened, well, it happened. He was diagnosed with corona.”
This week, many people were arrested for sharing false information about Magufuli’s health on social media.
Magufuli has been downplaying the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that Tanzania has “liberated itself from the Covid” through prayer.
He also ruled out some form of lockdown or other security measures, such as mask-wearing.
“That’s why none of us are wearing masks here.” Do you think we’re not afraid of dying? “It’s because Covid-19 doesn’t exist,” he explained.
However, Magufuli later admitted that a “respiratory illness” was still present.
Many Tanzanian officials have died, sometimes without being given a cause of death.
Among them was Seif Sharif Hamad, the first vice-president of the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, who died in mid-February. His group said he was infected with Covid-19.
Since April 2020, Tanzania has not published any coronavirus results.