President John Magufuli of Tanzania has died from heart complications, according to Samia Suluhu Hassan, his deputy.
In a statewide broadcast on Wednesday, Hassan broke the tragic news and said there would be 14 days of national mourning while flags would fly at half mast.
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“It is with deep regret that I inform you that today we lost our brave leader, the president of the Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli,” Hassan said.
He was last seen in public weeks ago, forcing the opposition to demand an update on his whereabouts.
The deceased, aged 61, passed on weeks after there were speculations that he had contracted coronavirus.
Magufuli had described COVID as a ruse and he refused to take measures to protect the citizens.
He paid less attention to COVID
He had questioned the efficacy of COVID vaccines and said his government had no plan to procure any shots for his country.
“We Tanzanians have not locked ourselves down, and I don’t expect to announce even a single day that we are implementing a lockdown because our God is still alive, and he will continue protecting us Tanzanians,” the late president once told a crowd.
“But we shall also continue taking precautions, including steaming. You steam, at the same time pray to God, and going on with your daily activities so that you eat well and your body builds immunity against the coronavirus.”
He grew up in a village in north-western Chato district along the shore of Lake Victoria.
His academic background
Born on October 29, 1959, Magufuli earned his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1994 and 2009, respectively. After a short stint of teaching at Sengerema Secondary School and later working as an industrial chemist, Magufuli went into politics under the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.
He was elected a member of parliament in 1995 and that same year appointed deputy minister of works, receiving the title of minister in 2000. In 2010, he gained popularity after he was appointed Tanzania’s minister for works and transportation for the second time. His bullish leadership style and fight against graft in the road construction industry was endearing for Tanzanians, who later nicknamed him “the bulldozer.”
While campaigning for his country’s highest office, he had promised to improve the condition of the poor, having experienced poverty.
“Our home was grass thatched, and like many boys I was assigned to herd cattle, as well as selling milk and fish to support my family. I know what it means to be poor. I will strive to help improve people’s welfare.”
Magufuli was declared president on his 56th birthday in October 2015.