Tanzanian main opposition leader Tundu Lissu on Thursday said President John Magufuli died of COVID-19, a day after the government announced Magufuli had died of heart failure.
“They continue to lie up to now, even now that he is dead, his government continues to lie. Magufuli died of corona,” Lissu told Kenyan broadcaster KTN.
Magufuli, 61, had long denied the existence of the coronavirus in the East African country. He downplayed the virus’ threat, recommending prayers and steam baths, and urged the Health Ministry to be cautious with vaccines developed abroad, questioning their quick development.
The former German colony with a population of around 58 million has not published any new coronavirus infection figures since May 2020.
“It is poetic justice. President Magufuli defied the world on the struggle against corona … He defied science, he refused to take the basic precautions that people all over the world are being told to take,” Lissu said.
The head of state’s recent absence from public view had fuelled speculation that he had Covid-19. He was rumoured to have flown to a hospital in Nairobi after his health deteriorated and then on to India.
Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan meanwhile announced on Wednesday evening that Magufuli died in a hospital of the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
According to the constitution, Hassan now assumes the country’s highest office until the next election in 2025.
The East African nation began a 14-day mourning period on Thursday.