President Magufuli of Tanzania who has made it a crime to even speak about coronavirus is on a ventilator in one of Nairobi Hospital’s ten presidential suites after attempts to transfer him quickly to India were aborted.
Like Trump, like Johnson, like Bolsonaro, the Head-of-State covid-denier is near death. Trump and Johnson were saved by medicine unavailable in East Africa. Bolsonaro had a mild case.
Kenyan government officials will not confirm Magufuli’s presence. Hospital staff treating Magufuli anonymously contacted a new Kenyan media outlet, PDOnline. They said Magufuli was admitted early Tuesday after doctors in Tanzania diagnosed cardiac arrest while his staff was attempting to arrange a medivac to India.
He was swiftly airlifted to Nairobi, a flight of about 70 minutes as opposed to the 4-5 hours to India. He was then snuck into Nairobi Hospital’s exclusive North Wing where ten “presidential” suites are maintained for the high and mighty.
Kenyan doctors immediately put him on a ventilator. Meanwhile Magufuli’s staff successfully arranged for him to be medivaced to Johannesburg, a flight of only three hours, but Kenyan doctors warned he would die if removed from the ventilator.
Tanzanian government officials refuse to say anything about Magufuli:
“No!” the next most powerful man in the government, Macharia Kamau, shouted to a Kenyan Star reporter who asked if Magufuli had been admitted to any hospital, before quickly slipping into his limousine and speeding away.
Later the country’s Minister of Information, Innocent Bashungwa, threatened journalists:
“Kutumia rumours/uvumi kama habari rasmi ni kukiuka sheria zinazosimamia sekta ya habari. Epukeni kusambaza habari ambazo mtawajibika nazo.” : ‘Disseminating rumors violates the law… Beware of publishing information that you will later be held responsible for.’
Magufuli like Trump, like Bolsonaro, was a very public figure who enjoyed large and raucous rallies where he frequently threatened Tanzanians who spoke about covid, because “God has saved us from the virus.”
Clearly the opposite is the case. Tanzania is the worst hit country on the continent and stopped compiling and publishing health information in May. Videos of night-time burials went viral. The Catholic Church warned of too few clergymen to handle funerals. Police told citizens to turn in relatives and friends who might be stealing into Kenya to get a vaccination.
Last month the Vice President of Zanzibar died after a prolonged battle with covid. According to Nairobi’s CapitalFM:
“Several Tanzanian officials have died recently, while the finance minister appeared last month coughing and gasping at a press conference outside a hospital to dispel rumours he had died of Covid-19.”
Tensions with Kenya escalated as a result of Tanzania’s clearly uncontrolled pandemic. Kenya responded well to the pandemic, imposing strict curfews and other mitigation efforts. It often closed its many borders with Tanzania when truckers failed temperature checks.
Tanzania in turn banned air travel into Kenya and began harassing the normal cross-overs in Maasailand by local farmers.
Yesterday a Tanzanian court sentenced 26 Maasai to a year-long jail term or hefty fine for improper border crossing, the first time ever.
Magufuli’s heart condition has been known for some time. He is young (61 years old) by the standards of most African leaders. It is a complete unknown what may happen to the country if its repressive dictator suddenly dies.