Tanzania’s Adventists Mourn Death of Country’s COVID-Skeptic President
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli died this Wednesday, aged 61.
Then-Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced the president died of heart complications. She has since taken his place as the country’s head of state.
Adventist denominational leaders have made statements following Magufuli’s death.
Northern Tanzania Union Conference President Godwin Lekundayo and Southern Tanzanian Union Mission President Mark Walwa Malekana expressed sadness at the passing of Magufuli, noting his support for the Adventist denomination and religious liberty. Magufuli had been particularly supportive in the building of Magomeni SDA church.
Last week opposition politicians in the country claimed Magufuli contracted COVID-19, although this has not been confirmed.
Magufuli had for months denied the presence of the virus. He claimed Tanzania had defeated COVID with God’s help last year. He changed course last month, urging precautions against the coronavirus.
It wasn’t until February 21 this year that the Tanzanian Health Ministry acknowledged the presence of COVID-19 in the country.
Magufuli claimed vaccinations against COVID-19 were dangerous and instead urged Tanzanians to protect themselves from the disease by using domestic measures including steam inhalation.
He previously urged people to pray to protect themselves from the virus.
The Catholic Church in Tanzania, the US embassy, and other entities have spoken up about a deadly resurgence of COVID-19 in the country. Many claim the recent deaths of a number high-profile politicians in the country were due to COVID.
On Feb. 21, the World Health Organization (WHO) called upon Tanzania to take “robust action” to tackle the virus. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the situation remains “very concerning.”
Since then, the Ministry of Health has released a statement urging Tanzanians to take precautions, including hand washing and wearing face masks.
Image of Magufuli: Wikipedia / Attribution: Issa Michuzi / issamichuzi.blogspot.co.uk