Africa News

World Leaders Mourn Tanzania’s John Magufuli

John Pombe Magufuli becomes the second East African Head of State to die in office in less than a year, after Burundia President, Pierre Nkurunziza

The world is mourning the death of Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli. The charismatic leader, who is credited for fighting corruption, supporting regional infrastructure projects and leading Tanzania to a middle income country, succumbed to heart failure on Tuesday night.

He was last seen in public on February 27, leading to speculation about his health.

In a televised address on Tuesday night, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan revealed that Magufuli was admitted to the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute in Dar Es Salaam on March 6, where he was treated for chronic atrial fibrillation, a heart condition he had suffered for more than 10 years.

He had been discharged before being admitted again on March 14 after feeling unwell.

Government officials had insisted Magufuli was healthy and going about his business despite reports showing he was gravely ill.

DR Congo President, Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo said he learned with “great sadness” the death of his “counterpart and brother, Mr. John Magufuli, President of Tanzania.”

Tshisekedi sent his “deep condolences to the brotherly people of Tanzania and to the biological family of the illustrious departed leader.”

Tshisekedi said Magufuli proudly defended the independence of the African continent.

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Uganda’s Ambassador to Tanzania Richard Kabonero extended Kampala’s “deepest condolences to the family and people of the United Republic of Tanzania on the passing of HE Dr John Pombe Joseph Magufuli.”

United States also mourned the demise of Magufuli, saying Washington “will continue to work with the Government of Tanzania to improve ties between the American and Tanzanian people.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who last year survived COVID-19, tweeted: “I’m sorry to hear that @MagufuliJP, President of Tanzania, has passed away. My thoughts are with his loved ones and the people of Tanzania.”


The US State Department said it remained “committed to continuing to support Tanzanians as they advocate for respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and work to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.  We hope that Tanzania can move forward on a democratic and prosperous path.”

Magufuli was criticized for his laissez faire handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Museveni (wearing mask) with Magufuli (c) on arrival in Chato, Tanzania in September 2020

World Health Organization Director General, Tedros Adhanom, who recently piled pressure on Tanzania to implement the public health measures that we know work in breaking the chains of transmission, and to prepare for vaccination, also sent his “deepest condolences to the people and government of Tanzania on the passing of President John Magufuli.”

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He added: “Our thoughts are with his family as well as the nation at this difficult time.”

Tedros recently encouraged the sharing of data in light of reports of COVID-19 cases among travellers.

“This situation remains very concerning. I renew my call for Tanzania to start reporting COVID-19 cases and share data,” said Dr Tedros.

Tanzania Vice President Ms Samia Suluhu on Tuesday night declared 14 days of national mourning.

Magufuli becomes the second East African Head of State to die in office in less than a year.

In June last year, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza succumbed to Covid19.

Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu, according to the constitution, is expected to be sworn in as president for the remaining period of the five-year term. She becomes the first female president for Tanzania and in the East African Region.

Tanzania Vice President Ms Samia Suluhu on Tuesday night declared 14 days of national mourning

Magufuli, who previously served as Infrastructure minister, was first elected President in 2015.

He was re-elected with more than 84% of the vote in last October’s election.

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