Tanzania’s ‘Bulldozer’ president and Covid-19 sceptic dies at 61

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Tanzania’s President John Magufuli, admired by followers for his hostility to corruption and waste however regarded by foes as an irascible authoritarian illiberal of dissent and sceptical about COVID-19, has died aged 61.

He was nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for his fondness for enormous public works and a fame for pushing by means of insurance policies regardless of opposition – a hard-charging management type that received help from many Tanzanians.

But he additionally attracted criticism at house and overseas for what opponents noticed as his eccentric dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic.

Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan mentioned on Wednesday he had died of coronary heart sickness, days after officers denied he had fallen unwell amid rumours that he had contracted COVID-19.

Mangufuli decried lockdowns, was sceptical of COVID-19 medicine and urged vaccines could also be a part of a international plot to steal Africa’s wealth.

“Vaccines are not good. If they were, then the white man would have brought vaccines for HIV/AIDS,” he mentioned. “Tanzanians should be careful with these imported things. You should not think that they love you a lot. This nation is rich, Africa is rich, everyone wants some of it.”

President John Magufuli of Tanzania, a distinguished COVID-19 skeptic whose populist rule usually solid his nation in a harsh worldwide highlight, has died aged 61 of coronary heart failure, it was introduced Wednesday, (*61*) 17, 2021 by Vice President Samia Suluhu. (AP)

The authorities stopped reporting statistics for brand spanking new instances and deaths in May final yr when it had registered 509 instances and 21 deaths. Magufuli had questioned coronavirus testing kits – which he mentioned had returned optimistic outcomes on a goat and pawpaw fruit. He declared the pandemic over and reopened the economic system.

But the loss of life in February of a senior politician from the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar raised issues a few hidden pandemic operating amok within the East African nation.

Magufuli’s strategy prompted alarm at the World Health Organization, prompting its head to implore Tanzania to enhance public well being measures, put together to distribute vaccines and begin reporting coronavirus instances and sharing information.

QUICK RISE TO INFLUENCE

Born within the village of Chato within the Geita area of northwestern Tanzania, Magufuli was first elected to parliament in 1995 from his house constituency.

A former chemistry instructor, he shortly climbed the political ladder and served in numerous cupboard roles, together with as minister of works, earlier than he received the presidency in 2015.

During his first presidential marketing campaign he captured headlines by doing push-ups at a rally to display his bodily health for workplace. His cost-cutting together with cancelling independence day festivities and limiting international journey by officers.

He was re-elected for a second time period in 2020, successful 84% of the vote in a poll the opposition mentioned was marred by irregularities and whose outcomes it rejected.

Upon re-election, he promised to construct on his agenda of combating corruption and decreasing wasteful public spending, strikes which received him reward in his first time period.

Magufuli, in no-nonsense type, would make unannounced inspection visits to authorities departments, and as soon as sacked senior managers at Tanzania’s fundamental public hospital, saying they weren’t delivering. He additionally purged 1000’s of “ghost workers” from the federal government, and lowered his personal wage as a part of spending cuts. reut.rs/2NHdzmc

He was powerful on companies when he thought they had been under-paying taxes. In 2017, his authorities accused gold producer Acacia Mining of evading taxes and under-declaring exports, hitting it with a $190 billion tax invoice. right here

Barrick Gold Corp, which owned the vast majority of Acacia and finally purchased it out, agreed to pay Tanzania $300 million to settle tax and different disputes.

Critics mentioned Magufuli had presided over a deterioration of the political scene, after his administration arrested opposition leaders, suspended some newspapers and restricted political rallies. The authorities denies suppressing dissent.

Among these critics is opposition chief Tundu Lissu, shot 16 instances by unknown gunmen within the administrative capital Dodoma in September 2017.

He accused the state of attempting to kill him, which the federal government denied. Magufuli condemned the taking pictures and ordered safety forces to research, however nobody has been arrested. right here

On the financial entrance, he launched into formidable infrastructure tasks within the hope of supercharging East Africa’s third largest economic system.

These included a railway, a hydropower venture and the revival of state provider Air Tanzania, spending billions of {dollars} within the course of.

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