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How Opposition revealed leader's health problems

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy MOSES NYAMORI | Fri,Mar 19 2021 00:00:00 EAT
By MOSES NYAMORI | Fri,Mar 19 2021 00:00:00 EAT

Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli died on Wednesday after almost two weeks of speculation by the Opposition on his ill-health.


Tanzania's opposition leader Tundu Lissu. [Picture, Standard]

Tundu Lissu, who was Magufuli’s main rival in the October 2020 poll, had on Monday claimed that the president “was widely reported to be critically sick, or dead”.

Days later, he claimed that Magufuli, a Covid-19 denier, had been flown to Kenya for treatment for the viral disease and was later flown to India in a coma. 

He later claimed that his sources had hinted to him that the 61-year old president was on life support and paralysed on one side from the waist down after he suffered a stroke.

“The man who declared victory over coronavirus was transferred to India this afternoon. Kenyans don’t want the embarrassment if the worst happens in Kenya. His Covid-19 denialism in tatters, his prayer-over-science folly has turned into a deadly boomerang,” claimed Lissu.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, however, denied the rumours, maintaining that Magufuli was “healthy and working hard.”

The authorities resorted to arresting those they accused of spreading “the rumours.”

“Instead of telling the truth about his whereabouts and his state of health, the dictatorship is detaining innocent people who are asking those legitimate questions.

"I intend to post names of the detainees from now on. Tell the people the truth,” said Lissu.

It was on Monday when Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan hinted that the president, who was serving his second term, was ill.

"Our country is now full of rumours from outside but that should be ignored. It's quite normal for a person to contract flu, fever or any other disease," said the VP.


The fifth president of the United Republic of Tanzania the late John Pombe Magufuli. [Courtesy]

But barely two days after the denials, a gutted Suluhu broke the news of Magufuli’s death to a nation that had been kept in the dark about his illness.

She said the president died of heart complications.

The announcement added a new twist to the story when she disclosed that Magufuli was hospitalised on March 6 at the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute.

She said that he died at Mzena State Hospital in Dar es Salaam, raising questions about reports of his hospitalisation in Nairobi and later being flown to India.

"It is with deep regret that I inform you today that we lost our brave leader, the President of the Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli," a visibly shaken Suluhu told the nationin a televised address.

In an interview with KTN News yesterday, Lissu described the late president as the most tyrannical leader in the history of Tanzania.

Lissu (pictured) did not mince his words and said that the death of Magufuli is set to open a democratic chapter for Tanzania, which he said has been ruled by an iron fist for the last five years.


“He will go down in our history as perhaps the most violent, the most tyrannical leader in the history of Tanzania. He was one of the most of malignant dictator that this region has seen,” said the politician, who survived an assassination attempt in 2017.

He claimed that in the five years Magufuli ruled Tanzania, hundreds of people have been killed with impunity, adding that he was lucky to have survived.

“To call him a benevolent dictator is to do a disservice to the people of Tanzania. Regionally, East Africa has been on life support because of him,” he added.

He described the deceased as extremely sensitive to criticism.

“People talk of those with thin political skin, Magufuli did not have political skin, he took things personal. We have had pain because of a president who could not take any criticism.” 

Lissu has been criticised by supporters of Magufuli over a perception that he was celebrating his ill health.

“I am not celebrating neither am I mourning. What I am saying is that after all the bloodletting for five years, our country needs to breathe. We have an opportunity to chart a democratic future for Tanzania,” he said.

Lissu said Suluhu, who he claims is different from Magufuli, has to chart a new course for the country by reconciling it and bringing back those in exile as well as releasing political detainees.

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