Virus claims dozens of Tanzania prominent leaders despite denial

Friday, March 19th, 2021 00:00 |
Tanzania President John Magufuli exchange a foot greeting with opposition politician Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad in Dar es Salaam, yesterday. - BBC

The death of Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli is one of the high-profile deaths witnessed in the country since the first Covid-19 case was announced slightly over a year ago.

On Wednesday, vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan announced that Magufuli had died from heart illness.

Before Magufuli’s death, Zanzibar’s first vice president Seif Sharif Hamad died after Covid-19 related complications.

ACT-Wazalendo Party said Hamad was hospitalised in the archipelago after testing positive for coronavirus.

On the same date, Head of Civil Service Chief Secretary John Kijazi, died while receiving treatment at the Benjamin Mkapa Hospital.

Ambassador Kijazi retired on November 14, 2016 but due to his professionalism, President Magufuli extended his contract until his death.

On February 4, an erudite of Ruaha Catholic University, Prof Gaudence Mpangala, was reported dead after a short illness. 

A day later, Prof Delphina Mamiro, a Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) don and her husband Dr Peter Mamiro fell ill after attending their parents’ funeral in Moshi.

They came home and said they were feeling unwell. Prof Mamiro died on February 6, and her husband three days later.

Two days before the death of Hamad, the country had lost Dr Muhammed Seif Khatib, a politician who held several ministerial positions during the administrations of former presidents Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete.

Khatib breathed his last on Monday, February 15 in Unguja, Zanzibar.

The death of Khatib followed that of Mohambwe constituency lawmaker and former Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communication Atashasta Nditiye.

Nditiye died on February 12 at the Benjamin Mkapa Hospital in Dodoma.

On the same day at the Muhimbili hospital in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania lost former Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Bakari Mwampachu.

“Denying the truth about the spread of the coronavirus in Tanzania, and therefore not urging the public to take precautions to protect themselves has led to a lot of people getting sick, hospitals becoming overwhelmed and the elderly and others losing their lives,” tweeted Tanzania opposition leader Zitto Kabwe. “A lot of deaths are being caused by the government.”

The death of former Bank of Tanzania (BoT) Governor, Prof Benno Ndulu brings to 10 the number of prominent Tanzanians who have died in less than a month.

Early this month, the Catholic Church in Tanzania said at least 60 nuns and 25 priests had died in the last two months due to Covid-19.

Magufuli dismisses masks and social distancing, and has refused to order any vaccines for his country, saying last month that they “are not good. If they were, then the white man would have brought vaccines for HIV/AIDS.”

The Medical Association of Tanzania acknowledged on February 5 that there had been a sharp increase of patients admitted to hospitals around the country with “breathing challenges”.

The government stopped reporting statistics for new cases and deaths in May last year at a time when it had registered 509 cases and 21 deaths.

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