Vice president announces president’s death on state television
Magufuli had not appeared in public since last month
Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who drew widespread criticism for his denialism of the coronavirus pandemic, has died only five months after he won a second term in a disputed election. He was 61.
“We have lost our courageous leader, President John Magufuli, who has died from a heart illness,” Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan said on state television on Wednesday. Magufuli fell ill on March 14 and had been receiving treatment at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital, she said.
Prior to his death, Magufuli hadn’t been seen in public since Feb. 24, sparking speculation on social media that he was critically ill. Opposition leader Tundu Lissu said on Twitter last week that the president had Covid-19, drawing a rebuke from Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, who urged citizens to ignore “baseless social media rumors.”
Nicknamed ‘The Bulldozer’ for his aggressive leadership style, Magufuli won early praise for tackling corruption, reducing wasteful government spending and improving the lives of peasant farmers by waiving dozens of taxes. He also spearheaded the development of new transport links, power plants and more than 1,700 health centers, investments that helped Tanzania’s economy become one of the world’s top performers.