John Magufuli: Tanzania’s president dies aged 61
Tanzania is mourning the death of its head of state, 61-year-old John Magufuli, a firebrand leader who was very vocal about his Covid-19 scepticism.
John Magufuli dies: What’s the cause of death?
As reported by Reuters, the last time Magufuli was seen in public was Saturday 27 February 2021. Weeks went by with no signs of the president and rumours started circulating that Africa’s frontline nay-sayer of Covid-19 may have contracted the respiratory virus.
However, this was quickly denied by Magufuli’s officials. Shockwaves reverberated across the country, on Wednesday when Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced that Magufuli had transitioned after weeks of battling a heart-related disease.
“Dear Tanzanians, it is sad to announce that today 17 March 2021 around 6 p.m. we lost our brave leader, President John Magufuli who died from heart disease at Mzena hospital in Dar es Salaam where he was getting treatment,” VP Hassan said in a public service announcement that was televised nationwide on TBC.
When will Magufuli be buried?
Hassan, who became Tanzania’s first female VP in 2015, has assumed Magufuli’s role. Her tenure as Acting President will expire in 2025, a momentous development in a continent that has rarely seen women in such positions of power.
Her predecessor will be laid to rest in a special ceremony with details such as dates yet to be confirmed. Tanzania, in the interim, will go into 14 days of mourning and the country’s flags will be flown every day, at half-mast.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, a close ally and renowned admirer of Magufuli, issued a statement on the news of his passing, as he prepares to deliver a eulogy at the memorial service of the late King Goodwill Zwelithini.
“South Africa is united in grief with the government and people of Tanzania as they go through this difficult moment,” he said.
Magufuli was present at the inauguration of Ramaphosa in 2019.
The late Tanzanian president is survived by his wife Janet and their two children, Joseph and Jessica.