On 17th March 2021, Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan has announced on a TV message to the nation the death of President John Magufuli on the same day at Mzena Hospital in Dar es Salaam while he was receiving medical treatment.
According to the information disclosed by the Vice President, Magufuli has died of heart failure following heart problems that have been affecting him for about 10 years.
However, prominent Tanzanian opposition politicians previously claimed that Magufuli-who has not been seen in public in two weeks-had contracted Covid-19 and was critically ill.
This was never confirmed by the government’s official sources. In fact, Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said a few days ago that the President was around, healthy, and working hard.
And Vice President Hassan told Tanzanians not to listen to rumors and that it’s normal for anybody to be afflicted by illness, to contract flu or a fever, without clearly referring to President Magufuli or to Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the Tanzanian police arrested several people on suspicion of spreading rumors on social media that President Magufuli was ill.
Magufuli repeatedly downplayed the threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic in Tanzania, ordered the government to stop releasing aggregate numbers on Covid-19 cases or deaths, declared the country Covid-free, did not implement any curfew or confinement measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and rejected any plan for vaccination.
Following his death, Vice President Hassan has declared 14 days of mourning in which flags will fly at half-mast.
According to Tanzania’s constitution, she will be sworn in as the new President and should serve the remainder of Magufuli’s five-year term which began In November 2020.