Tanzania president John Magufuli has passed on ending weeks of speculation of his whereabouts
In a televised address on Thursday night, Tanzania vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan said that Magufuli had died of heart complications which are as result of COVID 19.
Magufuli last appeared in public on Feb. 27, and the fervent Catholic has missed three Sunday services, where he would often address the congregation.
Just days before, Finance Minister Philip Mpango appeared coughing and gasping at a press conference outside a hospital, to dispel rumors he had died of COVID-19
Magufuli had for months insisted the virus no longer existed in Tanzania, and had been fended off by prayer. He refused to wear a face mask or take lockdown measures.
The country stopped releasing case data in April 2020. But a week before he was last seen, Magufuli conceded the virus was still circulating, after the vice president of semi-autonomous Zanzibar was revealed to have died of COVID-19.
Last Tuesday, main opposition leader Tundu Lissu, exiled in Belgium, and others began questioning Magufuli’s absence, citing sources that he was gravely ill from COVID-19, exacerbated by underlying health conditions.
John Pombe Magufuli is a Tanzanian politician and the fifth President of Tanzania, in office since 2015. He was the chairman of the Southern African Development Community from 2019–2020.
Magufuli came to power in 2015 as a no-nonsense, corruption-busting president nicknamed the “Bulldozer,” and was reelected in a disputed poll last year.
However, he has been accused by rights groups and of stifling democracy and cracking down on the media. As a result, the country’s journalists are too afraid to dig into the story.