Tanzanian President’s Absence Fuels Hypothesis About His Well being
NAIROBI, Kenya — As unrecorded numbers of Tanzanians succumbed to the coronavirus, the nation’s president persistently downplayed the pandemic, dismissing protecting measures, scoffing at vaccines and saying God had helped to eradicate the virus.
Now, President John Magufuli’s unusually prolonged absence from public view is fueling hypothesis that he himself is critically sick with Covid-19 and is being handled outdoors the nation.
The rumors began swirling this week after Tanzania’s main opposition determine, Tundu Lissu, stated Mr. Magufuli was infected with the virus and was being handled in a hospital in neighboring Kenya. In a textual content message, Mr. Lissu stated he had it “from pretty authoritative sources” that the president was flown to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, on Monday evening and checked into Nairobi Hospital, one of many largest non-public services in that nation.
On Tuesday, Mr. Lissu demanded that authorities disclose the whereabouts of the president, who has not appeared in public for nearly two weeks. On Wednesday, he stated that Mr. Magufuli was transferred to a hospital in India to “keep away from social media embarrassment” in case “the worst occurred” in Kenya.
Mr. Magufuli didn’t attend a digital summit for the leaders of the East African regional bloc on Feb. 27 and was represented by Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
“Probably the most highly effective man in Tanzania is now being sneaked about like an outlaw,” Mr. Lissu stated in a Twitter publish on Wednesday.
“His COVID denialism in tatters, his prayer-over-science folly has became a lethal boomerang,” he stated in one other post on Thursday.
Mr. Lissu’s feedback got here after the Tanzanian human rights group Fichua Tanzania said Mr. Magufuli had left the nation to obtain remedy in Kenya.
As hypothesis regarding his whereabouts and sickness remained rife on social media, Kenya’s Day by day Nation newspaper additionally reported that an “African chief” had been admitted to Nairobi Hospital and cited diplomatic sources who stated the chief was “on a ventilator.”
Whereas these and comparable rumors concerning the president’s well being circulated, authorities officers defended President Magufuli and threatened to punish these circulating conjectures about his well being.
“The pinnacle of the state isn’t a tv anchor who had a program however didn’t present up,” Mwigulu Nchemba, minister for authorized and constitutional affairs, said in a Twitter post. “The pinnacle of state isn’t the chief of jogging golf equipment who needs to be within the neighborhood every single day.”
Minister of Info Harmless Bashungwa warned the public and the media that utilizing “rumors” as official data violated the nation’s media legal guidelines.
From the start of the pandemic a yr in the past, Mr. Magufuli, 61, railed in opposition to masks and social distancing measures, advocated unproven treatments as cures and stated the nation had “completely completed” the virus by way of prayer. Recognized popularly as “The Bulldozer,” Mr. Magufuli additionally questioned the efficacy of vaccines, arguing that if these produced by “the white man” had been efficient, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria would have been eradicated.
Below Mr. Magufuli’s management, which started along with his election in 2015, Tanzania, as soon as a mannequin of stability within the area, has slid towards autocracy, with the authorities cracking down on the press, opposition figures and rights teams. Mr. Magufuli received a second five-year time period final October, in an election marred by accusations of widespread fraud and irregularities.
Mr. Lissu, who was the principle opposition candidate in opposition to Mr. Magufuli, left the nation for exile in Belgium, the place he stays.
Since final April, Tanzania has not shared knowledge on the coronavirus with the World Well being Group and has reported solely 509 instances and 21 deaths from Covid-19. This lack of transparency has been extensively condemned, together with by the director common of the W.H.O., Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Final Might, the top of Tanzania’s nationwide laboratory was suspended after Mr. Magufuli questioned the efficacy of testing kits provided by the Africa Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Mr. Magufuli stated the kits had returned constructive outcomes on samples secretly taken from a goat and a pawpaw fruit — allegations that had been rejected by the Africa C.D.C. and the W.H.O.
As lawmakers raised alarm over a spate of deaths attributed to pneumonia, well being specialists and overseas diplomats urged the federal government to take the pandemic critically.
In January, the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s former capital and largest metropolis, warned of a “vital enhance” in Covid-19 instances. The Roman Catholic Church has additionally referred to as on the federal government to confess the reality of the virus and has urged its congregants to keep away from massive gatherings.
Tanzanian leaders like Seif Sharif Hamad, the primary vp of Tanzania’s semiautonomous island of Zanzibar, have died after contracting the coronavirus. Quickly after information unfold that Mr. Hamad had succumbed to the virus final month, the minister of finance, Philip Mpango, appeared at a information convention in Tanzania’s capital, Dodoma, to disclaim rumors that he too had died. Mr. Mpango, although, was not notably reassuring when, flanked by unmasked medical doctors, he started wheezing heavily and coughing fitfully.
Dealing with stress, Mr. Magufuli lastly modified course in late February and requested individuals to put on masks and heed the recommendation of specialists.
However for Mr. Lissu, it was too little too late.
“It’s a tragic touch upon his stewardship of our nation that it’s come to this,” Mr. Lissu stated in a post on Twitter about Mr. Magufuli’s an infection, which he stated is proof “that prayers, steam inhalations and different unproven natural concoctions he’s championed aren’t any safety in opposition to coronavirus!”
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