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June 19, 2021
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COVID-19 and the ambiguous legacy of the Magufuli presidency in Tanzania | The Conversation

With Magufuli’s sudden death, determining the legacy of his presidency is no easier than it was about a year earlier determining how best to interpret the actual presidency. And the conclusion of the authors of this article remain relevant: “Tanzania ought to aspire to better lives for it citizens. These causes are laudable and it is good that Magufuli pursues them. But his conduct over COVID-19 and democracy tarnishes them by association”.

It began with Elizabeth Ane. President John Pombe Magufuli explained that he had suspected that the number of COVID-19 cases in Tanzania was being artificially inflated. At his direction, test swabs were applied to non-human samples, including goats, sheep, pawpaw fruit, quails and oil. The swabs were tubed and assigned human pseudonyms, including Elizabeth Ane. They were sent, thus disguised, to the national laboratory to be tested for COVID-19.

In a live television broadcast, Magufuli announced the results: COVID-19 false positives. This, he alleged, revealed a picture of foreign conspiracy and domestic collusion:

Some workers may have been put on the payroll of imperialists.

In a manner reminiscent of President Donald Trump, he insinuated that the World Health Organisation, at least by omission, was responsible. He announced purportedly good news too; Madagascar had discovered a herbal medicine for COVID-19. In an apparent celebration of the national airline, a plane was dispatched to collect doses.

Magufuli’s response to COVID-19 did not start – or end – with this test of tests. He introduced preventative measures to COVID-19 late and partially, which the WHO has suggested may have exacerbated the spread of the virus. He declared that COVID-19 was a “devil” (shetani) which “cannot live in the body of Christ. It will burn instantly.”

Later, he asked Tanzanians to defeat the devil in coronavirus through prayer, announced 3 days of national prayers against COVID-19 and has excluded churches and mosques from lockdown measures.

Read the full article titled, COVID-19 is casting Magufuli in the worst light, in an election year | The Conversation.

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