John Magufuli at a glance

  • Studied chemistry and maths at the University of Dar es Salaam
  • Worked as a chemistry and maths teacher
  • First elected as an MP in 1995
  • Became a cabinet minister in 2000
  • First elected president in 2015
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When Covid-19 arrived in Tanzania, Mr Magufuli called on people to go to churches and mosques to pray. “Coronavirus, which is a devil, cannot survive in the body of Christ… It will burn instantly,” he said.

He declared Tanzania “Covid-19 free” last June, saying the virus had been eradicated by three days of national prayer.

He also mocked the efficacy of masks, expressed doubts about testing, and teased neighbouring countries which imposed health measures to curb the virus.

“Countries in Africa will be coming here to buy food in the years to come… they will be suffering because of shutting down their economy,” he said, according to the Associated Press.

Tanzania has not published details of its coronavirus cases since May, and the government has refused to purchase vaccines.

On Monday, police said they had arrested four people on suspicion of spreading rumours on social media that the president was ill.

“To spread rumours that he’s sick smacks of hate,” Mr Majaliwa said at the time.

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