17-03-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
The mystery surrounding the physical condition of Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who has been off the media radar for a fortnight, has been revealed in the most tragic way possible. The authoritarian Head of State, nicknamed 'Bulldozer', who had always considered his country, which borders Kenya, 'Covid Free', inviting citizens to defeat the virus with prayers, died yesterday after a long (and never confirmed by his government) stay in hospital due to serious heart problems.
According to increasingly persistent rumours, Covid-19 played a decisive role in the deterioration of his health.
Initially, the Tanzanian opposition had ensured that Magufuli was abroad for treatment, but according to Vice President Samia Suluhu, the 61-year-old President died of a heart condition from which he had been suffering for some time, after being admitted to hospital in Dar Es Salaam.
According to a government spokesman, Magufuli was admitted for an initial heart attack on 6 March and was subsequently discharged, only to be admitted again after his condition worsened on 14 March.
What is certain is that he had not appeared in public since 27 February and until yesterday members of his government had always denied that this was because of his health condition.
The 'Bulldozer' had always expressed his scepticism about the Coronavirus, defining it as a virus like many others, which could be easily treated with local ancestral remedies, medical herbs and simple medicines, as for a trivial flu.
And that instead of masks and social distances it was enough to pray, even gathered in churches. When Zanzibar's vice-president died a few days after admitting to being Covid-19 positive on 20 February, Magufuli acknowledged for the first time that the virus was still circulating in Tanzania, but said he was sure it would be stamped out. Similarly, he would not approve the purchase of vaccines or even donations from the Covax programme for developing countries.
Now his government will have to deal with the growing fears of the population, after the confirmed cases and the suspicion that even the most important man in Tanzania has contracted the virus and that this has fatally worsened his already precarious health condition.
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