Leader Of Tanzania’s Main Opposition Party Arrested

(FILES) In this file photograph taken on March 14, 2020, Tanzania’s Chadema Party chairman Freeman Mbowe (C) gestures as he arrives at the party’s headquarters after being released from Segerea Prison in Dar es Salaam. (Photo by Ericky BONIPHACE / AFP)

 

The leader of Tanzania’s main opposition party Chadema and other members were arrested early Wednesday ahead of a planned conference to demand constitutional reforms, the party said.

Freeman Mbowe and 10 Chadema members were rounded up in the dead of night in the northwestern port city of Mwanza, it said on Twitter.

“We condemn the repression of the rights of Tanzanians with the strongest force. These are signs that the dictatorship that existed during the rule of President John Magufuli continues,” the party charged.

“Freeman Mbowe was accosted by an army of police officers in his hotel when he arrived at 02:30 am and was arrested together with other leaders,” it said.

While the other Chadema members were taken to Mwanza police station, there was no information about Mbowe’s whereabouts.

“We want the police to come out and say where the chairman is and why he was arrested,” Chadema said.

– ‘Cannot continue with old order’ –

The arrests come four months after Tanzania’s first female President Samia Suluhu Hassan took office in March following the sudden death of her predecessor Magufuli.

There have been high hopes that Hassan would usher in a change from the autocratic rule of her predecessor, who was nicknamed the “Bulldozer” for his uncompromising leadership style.

The arrests took place after Mbowe vowed to go ahead with a meeting on constitutional reforms despite Mwanza provincial authorities banning public gatherings to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“We cannot continue with the old order,” Mbowe said in a video published on Twitter on Monday, dressed in a red shirt and beret.

“We have the right to meet but are arrested, beaten, accused and taken to court for two to three years and then freed.

“If they want to arrest all members of the Chadema party, let them first expand the jails because we are all ready to be arrested and will not request bail.”

In April, Hassan had reached out to the opposition and vowed to defend democracy and basic freedoms in the East African country, which had seen a slide into autocratic rule under her predecessor.

In November 2020, several top opposition leaders including Mbowe were briefly detained after calling for mass protests against what they charged was a rigged election that returned then president Magufuli to power for a second term.

The deeply Covid-sceptic Magufuli died in March of what the authorities said was a heart condition but his political opponents insisted he had coronavirus.

Tanzania was long seen as a haven of stability and democracy in an otherwise volatile neighbourhood, but alarm grew over Magufuli’s increasingly authoritarian rule.

AFP

UN ‘Alarmed’ By Tanzania Return Of Fleeing Mozambicans

File: (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)

 

The United Nations said Tuesday it was alarmed by reports that Tanzania has been forcibly returning people fleeing unrest in neighbouring Mozambique.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, upheld the right to cross borders to seek asylum and said conditions at the frontier village of Negomano in Mozambique were “dire”.

“UNHCR and partners have received worrying reports — including direct testimonies — that several thousand Mozambicans have been pushed back from Tanzania into northern Mozambique since last year,” spokesman Boris Cheshirkov told reporters in Geneva.

“This includes reports of over 1,500 returned this month.”

He said an April mission to Negomano found that most Mozambicans sheltering there had hoped to find refuge in Tanzania after fleeing deadly attacks by non-state armed groups in Palma in March.

Jihadists swooped on the coastal town on March 24. The attack marked a major intensification in an insurgency that has wreaked havoc across northeastern Cabo Delgado province for over three years as the militants seek to establish a caliphate.

“UNHCR is alarmed at reports that Mozambicans have been… forcibly returned, and prevented from seeking asylum,” Cheshirkov said.

“We call on all parties to allow free movement of civilians fleeing violence and conflict, in search of international protection, safety and assistance, including to respect and fully uphold the right to cross international borders to seek asylum.”

He said that in Negomano, many people told the UNHCR they had been detained in Tanzania, taken to a local school and interrogated by officials.

Those without proof of Tanzanian nationality were returned to Mozambique.

“The situation is particularly desperate for single mothers, now staying in Negomano without family support,” said Cheshirkov.

“The conditions at Negomano are dire and needs are acute for food, water and sanitation, and health services, but only limited humanitarian assistance is reaching the remote area.”

The refugee agency and its partners have been providing protection and basic assistance to 50,000 people in northern Mozambique since last year and plan to assist an additional 250,000 people by the end of 2021, the spokesman said.

The agency counts 724,000 people who have been forcibly displaced since the unrest started in Cabo Delgado in October 2017.

AFP

Tanzania Unveils COVID-19 Restrictions, Citing Fear Of Variants

A file photo of the Tanzanian national flag.
A file photo of the Tanzanian national flag.

 

Tanzania has announced new measures to control the spread of coronavirus in a departure from the approach taken by its late leader John Magufuli, a Covid-sceptic who had downplayed the pandemic.

Travellers entering Tanzania must show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken in the prior 72 hours to arrival, the health ministry said late Monday, citing concern about new variants of the disease.

Those arriving from countries with a high number of coronavirus infections will also need to pay for an additional rapid test, though it was not specified how this criterion would be determined.

In addition, those who have visited a country with “new Covid-19 variants” in the previous two weeks will be required to undergo mandatory 14-day quarantine at their own expense.

Citizens can isolate at home, while foreigners will need to choose a government facility.

“Based on the global epidemiological situation and emergence of new variants of viruses that cause COVID-19, there is an increased risk of their importation into our country,” Tanzania’s chief medical officer Abel Makubi said in the statement.

The restrictions come nearly two months after Samia Suluhu Hassan became president following the death of Magufuli, who spent the better part of the pandemic playing down the virus, shunning masks and citing prayer for warding off disease.

The government said Magufuli, nicknamed the “Bulldozer” for his uncompromising leadership style, died of a heart condition in late March after a mysterious three-week absence — but his political opponents insisted he had coronavirus.

The new president signalled a departure from her predecessor’s position in April, saying it was “not proper” to ignore the disease and ordering a science-based approach to Tanzania’s Covid-19 policy.

Tanzania has not reported any Covid-19 data since April 2020. Its last record showed 509 infections and 16 fatalities.

Barely two months after reporting its first case of the coronavirus, Tanzania lifted mandatory quarantine of passengers and eased restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the disease.

Government officials have taken few measures to contain the disease, instead of promoting prayer and herbal remedies to treat the illness, drawing criticism from opposition leaders and the international community.

-AFP

This Week In Pictures: 13-19 March, 2021

A protester holds onto the shirt of a fallen comrade, during a crackdown by security forces on demonstrations against the military coup, in Hlaing Tharyar township in Yangon on March 14, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP)

 

A selection of the week’s news photos from across the world.

From the violence during the protests in Myanmar, the very first female President of Tanzania, immigrants expelled from the United States and the enduring impact of COVID-19: these are our selection of striking news images from around the world this week.

 

A boy splashes himself with water in the Atbarah river near the village of Dukouli within the Quraysha locality, located in the Fashaqa al-Sughra agricultural region of Sudan’s eastern Gedaref state on March 16, 2021. (Photo by ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

 

New Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan sits on a chair after swearing-in ceremony as the country’s first female President after the sudden death of President John Magufuli at statehouse in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 19, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP)

 

 

An intubated COVID-19 coronavirus disease patient receives an injection while lying in an intensive care unit (ICU) of Dura Public Hospital in the village of Dura, west of Hebron in the occupied West Bank on March 16, 2021. (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)

 

Personnel of The Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) carry the coffin of fifth Tanzanian president John Magufuli during the national funeral at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on March 20, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP)

 

An Iranian releases a lantern in Tehran on March 16, 2021 during the Wednesday Fire feast, or Chaharshanbeh Soori, held annually on the last Wednesday eve before the Spring holiday of Nowruz.(Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP)

 

Toure, a Gambian salt harvester, holds a basket filled with the salt collected from the crust of the bottom of the Lake Retba (Pink Lake) in Senegal on March 16, 2021.  (Photo by MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

 

Jordanian security forces disperse a protest in Amman on March 15, 2021 over measures imposed by authorities to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus. (Photo by Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP)

 

Women cry as attendees mourn the death of the coffin of fifth Tanzanian president John Magufuli during the national funeral at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam on March 20, 2021.  (Photo by STR / AFP)

 

The stupa of the Buddhist temple Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) is illuminated in green to mark St. Patrick’s Day in Bangkok on March 17, 2021. (Photo by Mladen ANTONOV / AFP)

 

Dozens of Central American migrants are expelled from the United States by the Paso del Norte-Santa Fe international bridge, from El Paso, Texas, United States to Ciudad Juarez, state of Chihuahua, Mexico, on March 18, 2021 (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ / AFP)

 

Baikal, a 14-year-old Siberian tiger, undergoes a dental surgery to cure an infection, at the Mulhouse Zoological and Botanical Park on March 17, 2021. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

 

A man reads a newspaper with a headline announcing the death of Tanzania’s President John Magufuli in Dar es Salaam, on March 18, 2021.  (Photo by – / AFP)

 

EDITORS NOTE: Graphic content / Protesters carry a wounded man shot with live rounds by security forces during a crackdown on demonstrations against the military coup in Yangon on March 17, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP)

 

An aerial picture shows Syrians waving the opposition flag during a gathering in the rebel-held city of Idlib on March 15, 2021, as they mark ten years since the nationwide anti-government protests that sparked the country’s devastating civil war.(Photo by Omar HAJ KADOUR / AFP)

 

Images of Covid-19 Victims are projected over the Brooklyn bridge as the city commemorates a Covid-19 Day of Remembrance in Brooklyn, New York on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Kena Betancur / AFP)

 

Medical staff use a gurney to transport from a medical SAMU helicopter a patient evacuated from another hospital, at the CHU -Universitary Hospital- in Angers, March 15, 2021, amid the outbreak of the Covid-19 caused by the new Coronavirus. (Photo by LOIC VENANCE / AFP)

 

A COVID-19 patient arrives by ambulance at a public hospital in Brasilia, Brazil, on March 15, 2021 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by EVARISTO SA / AFP)

 

 

A man wearing a costume of the StarWars protagonist Din Djarin poses in front of a giant replica of the Razor Crest, a gunship from the StarWars spinoff series “The Mandalorian” used by the hit TV show’s mysterious bounty hunter to roam the galaxy’s outer reaches, in a park of the eastern Siberian city of Yakutsk on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Evgeniy SOFRONEYEV / AFP)

 

 

Well-wishers turn on their phone torches as they gather at a band-stand where a planned vigil in honour of alleged murder victim Sarah Everard was cancelled after police outlawed it due to Covid-19 restrictions, on Clapham Common, south London on March 13, 2021. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

 

Dutch anti-riot police officers detain a man during a demonstration against the government and anti-covid measures at the Malieveld in The Hague on March 14, 2021.  (Photo by JOHN THYS / AFP)

 

Strong winds and high waves hit the coast on March 13, 2021 in Plobannalec-Lesconil, western France. (Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP)

 

Attendees react during the national funeral of fifth Tanzanian president John Magufuli at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on March 20, 2021. – (Photo by STR / AFP)

 

A protester holds onto the shirt of a fallen comrade, during a crackdown by security forces on demonstrations against the military coup, in Hlaing Tharyar township in Yangon on March 14, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP)

 

This picture taken on March 13, 2021, shows artist Sergei Pakhomov performing inside a wooden structure ‘Corona Tower’ during celebrations of Maslenitsa, the eastern Slavic Shrovetide in the village of Nikola-Lenivets.  (Photo by Dimitar DILKOFF / AFP)

 

 

 

Tanzanians Pay Their Respects To Late President Magufuli

Women cry as attendees mourn the death of the coffin of fifth Tanzanian president John Magufuli during the national funeral at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam on March 20, 2021. STR / AFP

 

Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Saturday led mourners in paying their last respects to her predecessor John Magufuli, who died suddenly this week after an illness shrouded in mystery.

Mourners lined the streets of Dar es Salaam to bid farewell to the late president, weeping and throwing flower petals as the casket was transferred by motorcade from a church to Uhuru Stadium where it lies in state.

Hassan, who was sworn in Friday to become the country’s first female president, led a government procession filing past the coffin, which was draped in the Tanzanian flag and offered her condolences to Magufuli’s wife.

Personnel of The Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) puts the national flag over the coffin of fifth Tanzanian president John Magufuli during the national funeral at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam on March 20, 2021. STR / AFP

 

Many wore black, or the green and yellow colours of the ruling party, but few inside the stadium or among the packed crowds outside wore face masks in the Covid-sceptic country.

“It is too soon for you to go, father. You touched our lives and we still needed you,” said one mourner, Beatrice Edward.

Personnel of The Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) carry the coffin of fifth Tanzanian president John Magufuli during the national funeral at Uhuru Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on March 20, 2021. STR / AFP

 

“We lost our defender,” said another, Suleiman Mbonde, a tradesman.

READ ALSO: Tanzania Swears In Samia Suluhu As First Female President

The government announced Wednesday that Magufuli, 61, had died from a heart condition at a hospital in Dar es Salaam after three weeks missing from public view.

His unexplained absence fuelled speculation that the famously Covid-sceptic leader was being treated for coronavirus abroad.

The main opposition leader, Tundu Lissu, insists his sources said Magufuli died a week earlier from the disease he long downplayed.

Magufuli had declared that prayer had rid the country of Covid-19, refused face masks or lockdown measures, stopped the publication of case statistics and championed alternative medicine, decrying vaccines as “dangerous”.

But by February, as cases soared, the president popularly known as the “Bulldozer” conceded the virus was still circulating.

While Hassan says she will take over where Magufuli left off, hopes are high she will usher in a change in leadership style from her predecessor and all eyes will be on her handling of the pandemic.

A softly spoken veteran politician, Hassan will convene a special meeting of the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party Saturday, where the appointment of a new deputy is expected to be discussed.

Under the constitution, the 61-year-old will serve the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term, which does not expire until 2025.

She has announced a 21-day mourning period. The late president will lie in state in several locations across Tanzania before his burial next Friday in his home town of Chato.

AFP

Tanzania’s First Female President Samia Calls For Unity 

New Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, inspects a military parade following her swearing in the country’s first female President after the sudden death of President John Magufuli at statehouse in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 19, 2021.  2025. AFP

 

Tanzania’s first female president Samia Suluhu Hassan on Friday called for unity after she was sworn in following the sudden death of her predecessor, John Magufuli, from an illness shrouded in mystery.

Hassan, 61, a soft-spoken ruling party stalwart from the island of Zanzibar, will finish Magufuli’s second five-year term, set to run until 2025.

Wearing a bright red headscarf, Hassan, who is Muslim, was sworn in at a ceremony in Dar es Salaam, where neither she nor the majority of attendees wore a mask, in the Covid-sceptic nation.

“I can assure Tanzanians that there is nothing that will go wrong during this time. We will start where Magufuli ended,” she said in a brief speech after she took the oath of office, inspected a special guard and received a 21-gun salute.

“Let us all be patient and unite as we move forward.”

She becomes the only other current serving female head of state in Africa alongside Ethiopia’s Sahle-Work Zewde, whose role is mainly ceremonial, whereas the president in Tanzania is also head of government.

“The times to view women as weak are long gone, we are able and more than capable,” said grocery store owner Ufo Tarimo, after the ceremony, highlighting the importance of “empowering women”.

Hassan was little known outside Tanzania until she appeared on state television on Wednesday night to announce that Magufuli, absent from public view for three weeks, had died from a heart condition.

But questions have been raised over the true cause of the 61-year-old’s death, after rumours that the famously Covid-sceptic leader had sought treatment abroad for coronavirus.

Main opposition leader Tundu Lissu insists his sources said Magufuli had Covid-19 and had actually died a week ago.

Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, which last week reported an “African leader”, in clear reference to Magufuli, was in a Nairobi hospital, on Friday gave more details of his illness, also indicating Magufuli had in fact died last week.

The paper, which did not detail its sources, said Magufuli was discharged from Nairobi Hospital on life support after it was determined he could not be resuscitated, and returned to Dar es Salaam, where he died last Thursday.

The paper said Magufuli had initially been evacuated to Nairobi on March 8 in a medical plane suffering from “acute cardiac and respiratory illnesses.”

Hassan announced Magufuli would be buried next Thursday in his home town of Chato in northwest Tanzania.

Citizens have been invited to pay their respects at events in other cities from Saturday. Former presidents have typically been displayed in an open casket, but it is unclear whether this will be the case for Magufuli.

Magufuli had declared prayer had rid the country of Covid-19, refused face masks or lockdown measures, stopped the publication of case statistics and championed alternative medicine, decrying the vaccines as “dangerous”.

But by February, as cases soared and the vice president of semi-autonomous Zanzibar was revealed to have died from Covid-19, Magufuli conceded the virus was still circulating.

– A new chapter? –
While Hassan says she will take over where Magufuli left off, hopes are high she will usher in a change in leadership style from her predecessor, nicknamed the “Bulldozer”, and all eyes will be on her handling of the pandemic.

New Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, inspects a military parade following her swearing in the country’s first female President after the sudden death of President John Magufuli at statehouse in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 19, 2021. AFP

 

Magufuli leaves behind a complex legacy, his popular no-nonsense attitude and anti-graft stance marred by a swing to authoritarianism in which he cracked down on the media, activists and free speech.

The opposition and rights groups have urged Hassan to change course.

“As we continue mourning, let us use this period to open up a new chapter for rebuilding national unity and respect to freedom, justice, rule of law, democracy and people-centred development,” said Freeman Mbowe, head of opposition group Chadema, in a statement Thursday.

He urged Hassan to “lead the nation toward reconciliation.”

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the new government “has a chance for a fresh start by ending problematic past practices.”

– ‘Hold your breath’ –
But analysts say Hassan will face early pressure from Magufuli allies in the party who dominate intelligence and other key positions, and will try to shape her decisions and agenda.

“For those who were kind of expecting a breakaway from the Magufuli way of things I would say, ‘hold your breath at the moment’,” said Thabit Jacob, a Tanzania expert at Denmark’s Roskilde University.

Hailing from Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous island in the Indian Ocean, Hassan rose through the ranks over a 20-year political career from local government to the national assembly.

She was named Magufuli’s running mate in the 2015 presidential campaign and the pair were re-elected in October last year in a disputed poll marred by allegations of irregularities.

AFP

Tanzania Swears In Samia Suluhu As First Female President

New Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, inspects a military parade following her swearing in the country’s first female President after the sudden death of President John Magufuli at statehouse in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 19, 2021. AFP

 

Tanzania’s Samia Suluhu Hassan was on Friday sworn in as the country’s first female president after the sudden death of John Magufuli from an illness shrouded in mystery.

Hassan, 61, a soft-spoken Muslim woman from the island of Zanzibar, will finish Magufuli’s second five-year term, set to run until 2025.

Wearing a bright red headscarf, Hassan was sworn in as the country’s sixth president, at a ceremony in Dar es Salaam, where neither she nor the majority of attendees wore a mask, in the Covid-sceptic nation.

“I, Samia Suluhu Hassan, promise to be honest and obey and protect the constitution of Tanzania,” said the new president, as she took the oath of office before inspecting troops at a military parade and receiving a cannon salute.

She becomes the only other current serving female head of state in Africa alongside Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, whose role is mainly ceremonial.

Hassan was little known outside Tanzania until she appeared on state television on Wednesday night to announce that Magufuli had died aged 61 from a heart condition after a mysterious three -eek absence from public view.

But questions have been raised over the true cause of his death, after multiple rumours that Magufuli — one of the world’s most fervent Covid-sceptic leaders — had caught the virus and had sought treatment abroad.

Main opposition leader Tundu Lissu insists his sources said Magufuli had Covid-19 and had actually died a week ago.

File photo: Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Hassan Suluhu (L) and Tanzania’s President John Magufuli (C) as they speak with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on the phone at the State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on July 24, 2019. Ericky BONIPHACE / AFP

 

And Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper, which last week reported an “African leader”, in clear reference to Magufuli, was in a Nairobi hospital, on Friday gave more details of his illness, also indicating Magufuli had in fact died last week.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Why Have Some Countries Paused The AstraZeneca Jab?

Citing sources, the paper said Magufuli was discharged from Nairobi Hospital on life support after it was determined he could not be resuscitated, and returned to Dar es Salaam where he died last Thursday.

The paper details his initial evacuation to Nairobi on March 8 in a medical plane, as he suffered “acute cardiac and respiratory illnesses.”

The main question hanging over the new president is whether she will usher in a change in leadership style from her predecessor, nicknamed the “Bulldozer”, notably in the handling of the pandemic.

– ‘A new chapter’ –
Magufuli leaves behind a complex legacy, after a swing to authoritarianism which saw him crack down on the media, activists and free speech, while refusing to take any measures against Covid-19.

He called for prayer instead of face masks, refused to publish case statistics or implement lockdown measures, and championed alternative medicines.

In this file photo taken on May 25, 2019 Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.  (Photo by Michele Spatari / AFP)

 

In May last year he revealed a papaya, quail and goat had tested positive for the virus in a secret operation, proving “sabotage” at the national laboratory.

However by February, as cases soared and the vice president of semi-autonomous Zanzibar was revealed to have died from Covid-19, Magufuli conceded the virus was still circulating.

The opposition and rights groups have urged Hassan to change course.

“As we continue mourning, let us use this period to open up a new chapter for rebuilding national unity and respect to freedom, justice, rule of law, democracy and people-centred development,” said Freeman Mbowe, the chairman of opposition group Chadema, in a statement Thursday.

He urged Hassan to “lead the nation toward reconciliation”.

Meanwhile Human Rights Watch said in a statement that the new government “has a chance for a fresh start by ending problematic past practices.”

– ‘Hold your breath’ –
However analysts say Hassan will face early pressure from powerful Magufuli allies within the party, who dominate intelligence and other critical aspects of government, and would try and steer her decisions and agenda.

“For those who were kind of expecting a breakaway from the Magufuli way of things I would say hold your breath at the moment,” said Thabit Jacob, a researcher at the Roskilde University in Denmark and expert on Tanzania.

Hailing from Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous island in the Indian Ocean, Hassan rose through the ranks over a 20-year political career from local government to the national assembly.

Residents of the Kawe Kanisani district watch the swearing-in of the new Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, on March 19, 2021.  AFP

 

A ruling party stalwart, she was named Magufuli’s running mate in the 2015 presidential campaign. The pair were re-elected in October last year in a disputed poll marred by allegations of irregularities.

Hassan must consult the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) about appointing a new vice president. The party is set to hold a special meeting of its central committee on Saturday.

New Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, inspects a military parade following her swearing in the country’s first female President after the sudden death of President John Magufuli at statehouse in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 19, 2021. AFP

 

Tanzania is observing a 14-day mourning period and details on Magufuli’s funeral have yet to be announced.

Magufuli is the second East African leader to die under mysterious circumstances.

Burundi’s equally Covid-sceptic leader, Pierre Nkurunziza, died from “heart failure” last June after his wife was flown to Nairobi to be treated for coronavirus.

AFP

Tanzania Mourns President Magufuli’s Demise After Mystery Illness

A man reads a newspaper with a headline announcing the death of Tanzania's President John Magufuli in Dar es Salaam, on March 18, 2021. AFP
A man reads a newspaper with a headline announcing the death of Tanzania’s President John Magufuli in Dar es Salaam, on March 18, 2021. AFP

 

Tanzania was plunged into mourning Thursday over the death of President John Magufuli following weeks of uncertainty over his health, with his swing to authoritarianism leaving a divided legacy. 

Flags flew at half-mast as the country began a 14-day mourning period after Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan — who is set to become the country’s first female leader — announced Magufuli’s death shortly before midnight.

Hassan said Magufuli had died on Wednesday of a “heart condition” relating to an abnormal heartbeat that he had long suffered from, in a hospital in Dar es Salaam.

The announcement came after government denials the president was ill as pressure mounted to explain his almost three-week absence from public view, which sparked panic and rumours he was seeking treatment abroad for Covid-19.

READ ALSO: Tanzanian President John Magufuli Dies Of ‘Heart Condition’

Several people were arrested this week for spreading rumours over his ill-health on social media.

As condolences poured in from abroad, main opposition leader Tundu Lissu, shot 16 times in a 2017 assassination attempt and exiled in Belgium, described Magufuli’s death as “poetic justice”, insisting his sources said he had succumbed to Covid-19.

“Magufuli died of corona. That is one. Number two, Magufuli did not die this evening. I have information from basically the same sources which told me he was gravely ill, I have information that Magufuli has been dead since Wednesday of last week,” he told Kenya’s KTN News, using local slang for the virus.

“What should I say? It is poetic justice. President Magufuli defied the world on the struggle against corona… He defied science… And what has happened, happened. He went down with corona.”

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, current head of the East African Community bloc, said Africa had lost an “illustrious” leader and ordered a seven-day period of mourning in Kenya and for flags to fly at half-mast in the region.

Ethiopia, Britain and the United States also sent condolences, with Washington saying “we hope that Tanzania can move forward on a democratic and prosperous path.”

‘I am shocked’

Magufuli was first elected in 2015 as a corruption-busting man of the people, endearing him to a population weary of graft scandals, who loved his no-nonsense attitude.

His expansion of free education, rural electrification and infrastructure investments also won him support, as did his efforts to increase Tanzania’s stake in mineral resources, demanding millions in back taxes from foreign mining companies.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 25, 2019 Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli gestures while arriving at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa, for the inauguration of Incumbent South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo by Michele Spatari / AFP)

 

“The poor had started making progress, business was flourishing, if you had a problem, the president would hear you out,” said 71-year-old newspaper vendor Kondo Nyumba, crying, as he sold the day’s papers, one of which had ‘Sorrow’ headlining the front page.

Another city resident Omar Jongo, 42, was still in shock.

“As any other Tanzanian, I am shocked, and we still haven’t come to terms with the news,” he told AFP.

“For the short time he served, he has done major visible reforms, as a nation we will remember him for the many good things he has done.

However, Magufuli’s slide into authoritarianism, which saw a crackdown on the media, civil society and opposition, raised alarm among foreign allies and rights groups.

His re-election last October was dismissed by the opposition and some diplomats as a sham, over alleged rigging, the blocking of foreign media and observer teams and an oppressive military presence.

“He will be remembered far more for what he destroyed (civic space, media freedom, democratic institutions, good governance) than for anything he started building (roads, modern railway, bridges, power plants, new planes and more),” said Dr Thabit Jacob, a researcher at the Roskilde University in Denmark and expert on Tanzania, in a text message.

“Some will argue he had good intentions and had the country at heart, but he leaves us with a complicated legacy to discuss for many years.”

‘There is no Covid-19’

Magufuli was one of a handful of world leaders, alongside former US president Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, who scoffed at the virus, championing alternative medicines.

He called for prayer instead of face masks, before stopping the publication of statistics in April 2020 when the country had recorded a total of 509 cases and 16 deaths.

Tanzania became an outlier in a region which quickly implemented lockdowns, night-time curfews and travel restrictions to stem infections.

In May last year he revealed he had submitted a variety of fruit and animals to be tested for the virus and that a papaya, quail and goat tested positive, proving “sabotage” at the national laboratory.

Magufuli later claimed prayer had saved the country from Covid-19.

“That’s why we are all not wearing face masks here. You think we don’t fear dying? It’s because there is no Covid-19,” he said.

However by February, as illness soared and the vice president of semi-autonomous Zanzibar was revealed to have died from Covid-19, Magufuli conceded the virus did in fact exist.

Nevertheless he warned his health ministry not to rush into procuring vaccines, saying they were “dangerous”.

Under Tanzania’s constitution, Hassan will become the country’s first female president and will consult the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party over the appointing of a new vice president.

Jacob said she would be a “president with a much weaker base, who will be controlled by the Magufuli faction and the intelligence. She will struggle to build her own base and factional contestations will emerge.”

 

AFP

Suluhu To Become First Female Tanzanian President After Magufuli’s Death

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 24, 2019, Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Hassan Suluhu (L) and Tanzania’s President John Magufuli (C) as they speak with Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on the phone at the State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 
Ericky BONIPHACE / AFP

 

Samia Suluhu Hassan is a soft-spoken, Muslim woman thrust from the obscure role of vice president to become Tanzania’s first female leader after John Magufuli’s sudden death.

Under the constitution, Hassan, the country’s 61-year-old vice president, will serve the remainder of Magufuli’s second five-year term, which does not expire until 2025.

A former office clerk and development worker, Hassan began her political career in 2000 in her native Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous archipelago, before being elected to the national assembly on mainland Tanzania and assigned a senior ministry.

A ruling party stalwart, she rose through the ranks until being picked by Magufuli as his running mate in his first presidential election campaign in 2015.

The Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) comfortably won and Hassan made history when sworn-in as the country’s first-ever female vice president.

The pair were re-elected last October in a disputed poll the opposition and independent observers said was marred by irregularities.

 

READ ALSO: Tanzania Mourns President Magufuli’s Demise After Mystery Illness

 

She would sometimes represent Magufuli on trips abroad but many outside Tanzania had not heard of Hassan until she appeared on national television wearing a black headscarf to announce that Magufuli had died at 61 following a short illness.

In a slow and softly spoken address — a stark contrast to the thundering rhetoric favoured by her predecessor — Hassan solemnly declared 14 days of mourning.

She will consult the CCM over the appointing of a new vice president.

– ‘Hold your breath’ –

Analysts say Hassan will face early pressure from powerful Magufuli allies within the party, who dominate intelligence and other critical aspects of government, and would try and steer her decisions and agenda.

“For those who were kind of expecting a breakaway from the Magufuli way of things I would say hold your breath at the moment,” said Thabit Jacob, a researcher at the Roskilde University in Denmark and expert on Tanzania.

“I think she will struggle to build her own base… We shouldn’t expect major changes.”

Her loyalty to Magufuli, nicknamed the “Bulldozer” for his no-nonsense attitude, was called into doubt in 2016.

Her office was forced to issue a statement denying she had resigned as rumours of a rift grew more persistent, and Hassan hinted at the controversy in a public speech last year.

“When you started working as president, many of us did not understand what you actually wanted. We did not know your direction. But today we all know your ambitions about Tanzania’s development,” she said in front of Magufuli.

– Getting things done –

Hassan was born on January 27, 1960 in Zanzibar, a former slaving hub and trading outpost in the Indian Ocean.

Then still a Muslim sultanate, Zanzibar did not merge formally with mainland Tanzania for another four years.

Her father was a school teacher and mother a housewife. Hassan graduated from high school but has said publicly that her finishing results were poor, and she took a clerkship in a government office at 17.

By 1988, after undertaking further study, Hassan had risen the ranks to become a development officer in the Zanzibari government.

She was employed as a project manager for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) and later in the 1990s was made executive director of an umbrella body governing non-governmental organisations in Zanzibar.

In 2000, she was nominated by the CCM to a special seat in Zanzibar’s House of Representatives. She then served as a local government minister — first for youth employment, women and children and then for tourism and trade investment.

In 2010, she was elected to the National Assembly on mainland Tanzania. Then-president Jakaya Kikwete appointed her as the Minister of State for Union Affairs.

She holds university qualifications from Tanzania, Britain and the United States. The mother of four has spoken publicly to encourage Tanzanian women and girls to pursue their dreams.

“I may look polite, and do not shout when speaking, but the most important thing is that everyone understands what I say and things get done as I say,” Hassan said in a speech last year.

She is among a very small circle of women to lead East African nations. Burundi briefly had an acting female president in 1993, while both Mauritius and Ethiopia have had women appointed to the ceremonial role of president.

-AFP

Tanzanian President John Magufuli Dies Of ‘Heart Condition’

(FILES) Tanzanian President John Magufuli has died from a heart condition, his vice president said in an address on state television on March 17, 2021,, after days of uncertainty over his health and whereabouts. (Photo by Michele Spatari / AFP)

 

Tanzanian President John Magufuli died Wednesday aged 61 from a heart condition, his vice president said, after more than five years of divisive, authoritarian rule capped by his refusal to take COVID-19 seriously. 

Magufuli, popularly nicknamed the “Bulldozer”, had been missing from public view for almost three weeks, fuelling wild rumours of his ill health, with opposition leaders claiming he had contracted the virus.

“It is with deep regret that I inform you that today on the 17th of March, 2021 at 6:00 pm we lost our brave leader, the President of the Republic of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli,” said vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan.

She said Magufuli had died of a “heart condition”, which he has suffered from for a decade, at a hospital in Dar es Salaam.

He had first been briefly admitted to the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute on March 6, but was subsequently discharged, Hassan said.

But Magufuli had again felt unwell and was on March 14 rushed to hospital, this time to the Emilio Mzena Memorial Hospital in Dar es Salaam.

“Our country shall be in a mourning period of 14 days and the flags shall fly at half-mast,” said Hassan, adding that funeral arrangements were under way.

Magufuli last appeared in public on February 27, and the fervent Catholic had missed three Sunday services, where he would often address the congregation, sparking concern.

Opposition leader Tundu Lissu cited sources saying that he had caught the virus, as demands grew for information on his whereabouts and rumours took off that Magufuli was seeking treatment outside the country.

– Anti-corruption crusader –
Magufuli was first elected in 2015 as a corruption-busting man of the people, endearing him to a population weary of graft scandals.

However a slide into authoritarianism, which saw a crackdown on the media, civil society and opposition, raised alarm among foreign allies and rights groups.

His re-election last October was dismissed by the opposition and some diplomats as a sham, over alleged rigging, the blocking of foreign media and observer teams and an oppressive military presence.

Analysts said that Magufuli had dealt a crushing blow to democracy in one of Africa’s most stable nations.

Magufuli also expanded free education, rural electrification and invested in infrastructure projects such as railways, a hydropower dam set to double electricity output and the revival of the national airline.

His government also passed a raft of laws to increase Tanzania’s stake in its mineral resources and demanded millions of dollars in back taxes from foreign mining companies.

But it is his handling of the coronavirus pandemic which cast his leadership style into sharp relief.

He championed prayer instead of face masks, before stopping the publication of statistics in April 2020 when the country had recorded a total of 509 cases and 16 deaths.

Tanzania became an outlier in a region which quickly implemented lockdowns, nightime curfews and travel restrictions to stem infections.

In May last year he revealed he had submitted a variety of fruit and animals to be tested for the virus and that a papaya, quail and goat tested positive, revealing “sabotage” at the national laboratory.

– ‘There is no Covid-19’ –
The devout Christian, who often took to the pulpit when he attended mass, later claimed prayer had saved the country from Covid-19.

“That’s why we are all not wearing face masks here. You think we don’t fear dying? It’s because there is no Covid-19,” he said.

However by February, under mounting pressure after the vice president of semi-autonomous Zanzibar was revealed to have died from the coronavirus, Magufuli appeared to concede the virus did in fact exist.

Under Tanzania’s constitution, Hassan will become the country’s first female president and will consult the ruling CCM party over the appointing of a new vice president.

His death plunges Tanzania into political certainly, said Nic Cheeseman, professor of democracy at the University of Birmingham.

“The news of Magufuli’s death will fundamentally reshape Tanzanian politics. Having dominated the political scene since his election, he leaves something of a political vacuum,” Cheeseman said.

“This will trigger fresh uncertainty and all eyes will be on internal CCM politics to see what deals have been struck in the ruling party about the balance of power after the transition.”

CAFCL: Plateau United Accuse Simba Of Poor Sportsmanship, Plans To Protest Result

Abdul Maikaba believes his team was cheated in Tanzania.

 

Plateau United coach, Abdul Maikaba has accused Simba SC of Tanzania of poor sportsmanship, which he believes is responsible for his team’s early exit from the CAF Champions League.

Plateau United held the hosts to a goalless draw in Dar-Es-Salaam but losing 1-0 in the first leg in Jos showed them the way of the tournament in the preliminary round.

In an exclusive interview with Channels Sports, Coach Maikaba praised his team for making improvements and blamed the hosts for going against rules of fair play and sportsmanship to advance in the competition.

 

Sunday Adetunji and Ibrahim Abubakar in the dressing room minutes to match kick-off in Tanzania.

Simba’s ‘Pranks’

With a tone exuding confidence, Coach Abdul Maikaba told Channels Sports that the sole goal of Plateau was to achieve victory in Tanzania and advance to the next round of the CAF Champions League.

According to him, the boys were disappointed after the loss in Jos and were charged to make amends by giving all they had in the second leg match.

“Actually our performance was far better than what we played at home because, with the experience of the game we played in Jos, we understood our opponent more and planned our strategy very well,” the 55-year-old gaffer explained.

“If not for the pranks played by Simba, they played a lot of pranks outside the game to ensure they frustrate us.’’

READ ALSO: Mbappe Scores 100th Goal For PSG

Struggling to express his disappointment, Coach Maikaba said Simba’s antics can destroy the reputation of the competition.

“It got to an extent where they tried to stop some of our players entry into their country. They kept wasting our time at the airport and they pinpoint two players, Sunday Adetunji and Abubakar Ibrahim because they performed well in Jos, they didn’t want them to be part of the game, including our goalkeeper,” Maikaba stated.

“When we arrived at our hotel, we met some medical officials who said we have to undergo COVID-19 tests. We got in late, needed to train for an hour which was the time they gave us to use the match venue, yet they were insisting we have the tests.

“We asked that they come back 30 minutes so we train but they refused and informed us they will return in 10 minutes but they didn’t return until 2 hours later. So, we left them and went on with our training. They eventually returned, did the tests and held on to it till we concluded our warm-up to the match.”

He further narrated that “Five minutes to kick-off, the match commissioner informed us that five of our players tested positive to COVID-19. The information shocked us, we knew it was their plan to frustrate and intimidate us. We told them we won’t play the match because the result is coming late.”

“Later, the catch commissioner returned with a different list that had two players, Sunday Adetunji, Abubakar Ibrahim who were their main targets, our general manager, my chief coach and one other official,” Coach Maikaba told Channels Sports.

Sunday Adetunji joined Plateau United in September this year following his return to Nigeria after a short-lived spell at Czech Republic side FK Pribram B.

 

Plateau United’s Abubakar Ibrahim in the dressing room before the encounter.

 

Coach Maikaba described his move to the Jos-based team as fantastic and was banking on him to make a difference in Dar-es-salaam.

“Sunday Adetunji and the right-back, Abubakar Ibrahim were part of the starting eleven for the match, we had to replace them three minutes to the commencement of the game,” he added.

READ ALSO: Chelsea Edge Leeds At Stamford Bridge To Move Top Of Premier League

The coach noted that Adetunji’s absence was a huge blow to the ambition of his team.

“Right now we are at a different hospital, we want to do the test again with all those affected because 24 hours before we left Nigeria, the entire team tested negative to COVID-19. It is a shock to us that some became positive in Tanzania, less than 48 hours. If our verification results come out negative, it means they lied and we will take our case to the Confederation of African Football (CAF).”

First-Leg Regret?

Plateau United lost 1-0 to the Tanzanian champions in the first leg in Jos after losing vital chances to win it. Clatous Chama scored the winning goal for the visitors in the 53rd minute to make it a difficult task for the Nigerian team in the second leg.

Coach Maikaba agrees his team should have done better in the first leg match. “Of course I regret that result,” he admitted.

“But we gave our best and that’s what we could give because the truth is that we lacked match fitness. That was the first official game we played in nine months. It is difficult.

“If you are lucky, you will meet a team with the same problems you have, but we met a team with an edge in playing games, they had played eleven games in their league. That is the truth. But playing that game in Jos improved our match fitness and made us better in the second leg in Tanzania.”

Lessons for Nigeria

Playing continental football provides a good learning experience for participating clubs. Nigerian teams have a rich participation record in the CAF Champions League and Confederations Cup but struggle to put the lessons into good use.

Coach Maikaba believes with valuable experiences in continental competitions, it is time for the country to start making positive changes with football.

“Let’s take Simba SC as a case study. In a small country like Tanzania, if you see their organization, it is far better than any club in Nigeria. The fans all in red and they got to the stadium three hours before the kick-off time. If not for CAF’s restriction of 30% capacity of the stadium, it would have packed and that’s total support for their team,” coach Maikaba stated.

He continued, “They also have a beautiful stadium with good training pitches. When you see how they operate, you’ll agree we need a better structure. They have good sponsorship; in Nigeria, it’s the reverse. Nigerian clubs lack sponsorship, we all rely on government to do things.

“Playing continental football requires a lot of preparation and you need proper investment to achieve that. For instance, we arrived in Tanzania, 24 hours to the game and that’s difficulty right there. For the first leg match in Jos, Simba arrived in Nigeria three days before the game; so you can see the difference?”

Coach Maikaba stated that corporate organisations must come into Nigerian football for it to grow. He admitted the problem is worrisome because it is deeply rooted in the grassroots.

“This exodus of our players happen right from the grassroots. Most of the discovered players from the grassroots don’t even play in the league. They just go straight to Europe. The best players in the country are owned by academies and these academies are not grooming players for the league, they ship them to Europe because of the money and in a way, you can’t blame them because it is business and they don’t believe their players will grow in the local league. The movement is not helping the league, we need quality players for the league to grow.”

The former Akwa United manager said that Nigeria must make an all-round improvement in football management to achieve good performance in the CAF champion League or Confederation Cup competitions.

Tanzanian Opposition Leader Arrested Ahead Of Protest


ERICKY BONIPHACE / AFP

 

Tanzanian police have arrested the chairman of the main opposition party Chadema as well as other top leaders, ahead of planned protests Monday against an election the party said was rigged.

Chadema and fellow opposition party ACT-Wazalendo rejected results which saw President John Magufuli win a second term with 84 percent of results and his ruling party take 97 percent of seats in parliament.

Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe had called for countrywide protests starting Monday as well as fresh elections.

“We have arrested Mbowe, he is in our hands,” said Dar es Salaam police chief Lazaro Mambosasa, adding six other top members of the party were also under arrest.

“On top of these protests which we banned, they wanted to incite the vandalisation of buildings, burn petrol stations, markets, and public transport vehicles,” he said.

“Any person implicated in the planning of illegal protests will be arrested and will face justice.”

Chadema’s presidential candidate Tundu Lissu won only 13 percent of the vote, after denouncing widespread fraud and intimidation of the opposition during the election and following years of repression and jailing of government opponents.

Lissu, who returned to Tanzania in July after three years abroad recovering from 16 bullet wounds sustained in an assassination attempt, said his party’s agents had been kicked out of polling stations and ballot boxes had been stuffed.

The result of presidential elections cannot be contested in Tanzania although the parliamentary outcome can be challenged.

“The door is closed for us to challenge the presidential results in court, and that is why we have decided to take this to the people, who have the power,” Lissu said.

Magufuli was first elected in 2015, and alarm has grown over his slide into autocracy amid a crackdown on the opposition and the media.

In semi-autonomous Zanzibar, which also elects its own president, the opposition’s presidential candidate was arrested twice last week, and attempts to protest were quickly and brutally crushed by security forces.

-AFP