More and more people are dying from Covid-19, but Tanzania’s President denies that the disease is dangerous. John Magufuli advises praying. The main thing seems to be to keep tourism going.
It is questionable whether it was Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad’s last wish that several thousand people gather to say goodbye to him, crowded together, many without a mask. The Vice President of the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar died a few days ago of an illness that should not exist in Tanzania – Covid-19, as his family confirmed. The 77-year-old is the best-known politician to date who fell fatally in a country that last announced the number of corona infections in April and is its president John Magufuli in June after a three-day state prayer announced that the country Corona-frei be. People should pray and trust local medicine, Magufuli said.
He stayed there. If there are isolated cases, they are among foreigners who have brought the virus into the country. The situation is under control, he said recently. A few days later, his Minister of Health appeared on television, next to her was a small blender in which she mixed ginger, onions, lemon and pepper into a small drink, which she recommended to viewers as a highly effective cure against Covid-19.
“The government is abandoning its people”
There was ridicule on social media, and Magufuli no longer only gets approval from his own party. Former minister and MP Mark J. Mwandosya publishes small obituaries on his Twitter account almost daily for former colleagues and friends who have passed away. It is one of many indications that the situation in Tanzania is getting worse.
“Covid-19 is killing people and we see a lot of cases, but we can’t talk about the disease,” a doctor in Dar es Salaam told AFP. Several hospitals are said to have rejected Covid patients because there are no more free beds. Activists and politicians in exile are asking for donations of masks and protective suits for doctors and nurses who are exposed to the virus because the government refuses to order equipment. “The government is leaving its people in the lurch,” says opposition activist Maria Sarungi Tsehai. And even a member of the ruling party asks the president to change course. “I’m tired of going to funerals.”
Travelers do not need a negative corona test at the border, especially from Eastern Europe and Russia, holiday guests flock to Zanzibar.
But Magufuli sees no reason to give in, last Friday he prayed against Corona again and called on his fellow citizens to do the same. The vaccines of the West are useless; if it weren’t for them, “the white man would have brought one against AIDS”. His government spokesman calls on the media not to constantly ask about Corona, but rather to report on the economic upswing in the country, where there is no lockdown and hardly anyone wears a mask in which everything is allowed as always. Tourism in particular benefits from this; Travelers do not need a negative corona test at the border, especially from Eastern Europe and Russia, holiday guests flock to Zanzibar.
They dance in the discos and crowd the narrow streets of Stonetown. And finally bring the virus back home with them. Great Britain has therefore banned the entry of people who have been in Tanzania. Japan and other states warn against entry. In Oman, the authorities have determined that 18 percent of the arriving travelers from Tanzania are infected with Corona, although a negative test is required for boarding the plane. This feeds the suspicion that Tanzania is not taking the tests very seriously.
A white spot on the map
Tourists continue to drive to Zanzibar. But the supposed normalcy, which the island advertises as a unique selling point, could soon turn into the opposite. Then namely when the rest of the world gets vaccinated and Tanzania remains a blank spot on the map because Magufuli continues to refuse to allow vaccines into the country. John Nkengasong, director of the Center for Disease Control based at the African Union, called on Magufuli to change course: “If we do not fight the virus as a collective on the continent, we are all lost.”
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