KAMPALA — Uganda opposition leader Robert Kyagulanyi aka Bobi Wine early on Thursday mourned the death of Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli.
Mr. Wine in a tweet extended condolences to the people of Tanzania over the death of the 61-year-old Magufuli who succumbed to a heart attack.
“My heartfelt condolences to the people of the United Republic of Tanzania on losing President John Pombe Magufuli. Eternal repose,” Mr. Wine wrote.
President Magufuli died after weeks out of the public eye.
Tanzania’s government said President Magufuli died as a result of a heart condition.
This followed weeks of speculation that his absence from public view would prove to be as ironic as it was tragic: that having ignored and laughed in the face of international guidelines published by the World Health Organization (WHO), the 61-year-old might have contracted COVID-19 himself.
Whatever the cause of death, his passing highlights the painful division that runs through the heart of Tanzania.
Magufuli came to power in 2015 following a campaign in which he had declared war on corruption. Upon his victory, his supporters were quick to elevate him to the level of a savior sent to save their nation — despite the fact that the election win did not exactly come as a surprise since his Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM), party or its political predecessor, has been ruling Tanzania since the country’s independence in the early 1960s.
But part of the reason why Magufuli attracted so much attention was the fact that he managed to quickly establish his own brand of governance.
Magufuli used and misused the country’s constitution repeatedly to achieve his ends, even if that meant endangering lives and livelihoods. It doesn’t take a legal eagle to suggest that he singlehandedly managed to turn the presidential institution into something rather akin to a monarchy within a few short years, though many experts have indeed supported this view.