Wilson Chipangura, Guest Reporter
Tanzania deputy president Samia Suluhu has announced the death of country’s President John Pombwe Magufuli.
According to the Vice President, Magufuli succumbed to heart disease in a Dar Es Salaam Hospital this evening. He was 61 years old.
The health condition of Magufuli has been a subject of speculation in both Tanzania and international media.
Reports last week suggested Magufuli had been flown to India after testing positive to the respiratory disease (covid-19) which has paralyzed the world systems and claimed the lives of many including top leaders.
In 2020 during the pandemic Magufuli dismissed the World Health Organisation (WHO) by playing down the threat from Covid-19, saying God and remedies such as steam inhalation would protect Tanzanians.
The former chemistry teacher mocked coronavirus tests, denounced vaccines as part of a Western conspiracy to take Africa’s wealth, and opposed mask-wearing and social distancing.
Tanzania stopped reporting coronavirus data in May last year when it had reported 509 cases and 21 deaths, according to the WHO, which has urged the government to be more transparent.
Magufuli, from northwest Tanzania, was first elected president in 2015 and has faced accusations from Western countries and opposition parties of eroding democracy.
According to the constitution, 61-year-old Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan will take over for the rest of the five-year term.
Born in Zanzibar, Suluhu has studied economics in England and worked for the United Nations’ World Food Programme as well as holding various government posts prior to becoming Tanzania’s first female vice-president in 2015 under newly elected Magufuli.