The first Covid-19 case in Tanzania had been diagnosed in March of 2020. At first, Magufuli’s approach to the pandemic was consistent with the measures recommended by the World Health Organisation and reflected the global scientific consensus.
But as the death toll began to rise and the true political and economic ramifications of the pandemic and the scientific measures proposed to combat it became clearer, Magufuli changed tack. Soon, this PhD in chemistry decreed three days of national prayers to chase away the “satanic” coronavirus.
He sent his foreign minister to Madagascar to fetch a planeload of herbal potions to fight the disease, and actively encouraged the use of a bewildering array of locally made steam inhalations, herbal concoctions and prayers to defeat the pandemic.
Soon thereafter, he declared Covid-19 defeated and was even given an award by evangelical Christian bishops, his loudest cheerleaders, for leading the nation to victory through divine intervention, rather than relying on the hated, godless, Western science and the global corporate Illuminati behind it.
But the coronavirus refused to be tamed. The dreaded second, more virulent, wave soon caught up with Tanzania. And it hit the elites within and outside the Magufuli government particularly hard. Senior government officials and cabinet ministers, former and current, were felled by Covid-19 one after the next.
Extracted, mostly verbatim with a few minor edits to ensure serialisation flow, from “Tundu Lissu’s Obituary on John Pombe Magufuli,” published by the Daily Maverick and shared on social media – Facebook. Tundu Antiphas Mughwai Lissu is a lawyer, politician and Member of Parliament. He contested against Magufuli in the 2020 Tanzanian Presidential Elections. We are sharing Lissu’s opinion within the wider context of the debate of Magufuli’s Legacy and his leadership style that trended #whatwouldmagufulido