Tanzania’s controversial President John Magufuli has died aged 61. The son of a peasant farmer rose to become president in 2015 and was praised for his no-nonsense approach. But he went on to gain international notoriety for his reaction to the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of his views, in his own words.
“I want to thank Tanzanians of all faiths. We have been praying and fasting for God to save us from the pandemic that has afflicted our country and the world. But God has answered us. I believe, and I’m certain that many Tanzanians believe, that the corona disease has been eliminated by God,” he told worshippers in a church in the capital, Dodoma in June 2020.
“Coronavirus, which is a devil, cannot survive in the body of Christ… It will burn instantly.”
“We have had a number of viral diseases, including Aids and measles. Our economy must come first. It must not sleep… Life must go on… Countries [elsewhere] in Africa will be coming here to buy food in the years to come… they will be suffering because of shutting down their economy.”
“We need to be careful because some of these donations to fight coronavirus could be used to transmit the virus. I want to urge you Tanzanians not to accept donations of masks, instead tell the donors to go and use them with their wives and children,” he added.
“Our founding father was not someone to be directed to be told what to do… Those who devise these kinds of rules [lockdown] are used to making these directives that our founding father refused,” Magufuli said, referring to Tanzania’s first leader, Julius Nyerere’s, habit of rejecting advice from Western nations.
“There are so many unbelievable things being done in this country. Either the imperialists have bought off the laboratory technicians, or they are not competent, which is not true,” he said.
“So many times, I have insisted that not everything that you are given is good. There could be people being used, that equipment could be used… but it could also be sabotage because this is warfare,” he said, about testing kits.
“It is possible this is another test but with God, we will win. Let’s not scare each other because we will not overcome. It’s possible we have offended God or we’re being tested and I’m urging that we stand by God… Religious leaders continue encouraging prayers, we will win. God cannot forsake this nation,” he said on 19 February at the funeral of a presidential top aide.
“I want you Tanzanians to believe that you have a real president, a real rock. I cannot be threatened and I am not threatened,” Mr Magufuli said in March 2018.
“I would like to tell media owners – be careful, watch it. If you think you have that kind of freedom, [it is] not to that extent,” he said in 2017, reminding journalists of the new laws and a new code of conduct overseen by the information ministry.
On his upbringing
“Our home was grass-thatched, and like many boys I was assigned to herd cattle, as well as selling milk and fish to support my family… I know what it means to be poor. I will strive to help improve people’s welfare,” he said during his 2015 election campaign.
On his legacy
“One day you will remember me… I know one day you will remember me, not for bad things but for the good deeds… because I have sacrificed my life for the poor in Tanzania,” he said in a video which resurfaced after his death.
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