Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has died aged at 61, the country’s vice-president has announced.

He died on Wednesday from heart complications at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, Samia Suluhu Hassan said in an address on state television.

“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,” Vice-President Hassan said in the announcement.

She said there would be 14 days of national mourning and flags would fly at half mast. According to Tanzania’s constitution, Ms Hassan will be sworn in as the new president and should serve the remainder of Magufuli’s five-year team which he began last year.

Magufuli was last seen in public on 27 February, but Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa insisted last week that the president was “healthy and working hard”. He blamed the rumours of the president’s ill-health on “hateful” Tanzanians living abroad.

Magufuli had not been seen in public for more than two weeks, and rumours have been circulating about his health.

According to Tanzania opposition leader Tundu Lissu his sources had leaked to him that Magufuli was being treated in hospital for coronavirus in Kenya.

Magufuli was one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptics, and called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus. Magufuli declared Tanzania “Covid-19 free” last June. He mocked the efficacy of masks, expressed doubts about testing, and teased neighbouring countries which imposed health measures to curb the virus.

Tanzania has not published details of its coronavirus cases since May, and the government has refused to purchase vaccines.

Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli

Biography


  • Born in Chato, north-west Tanzania, in 1959
  • Studied chemistry and maths at the University of Dar es Salaam
  • Worked as a chemistry and maths teacher
  • First elected as an MP in 1995
  • Became a cabinet minister in 2000
  • First elected president in 2015

On Monday, police said they had arrested four people on suspicion of spreading rumours on social media that the president was ill.

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By M. O

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