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Home » The Human Element » Tanzania’s President tells citizens scared of COVID19 – “Pray for your lives”

Tanzania’s President tells citizens scared of COVID19 – “Pray for your lives”

FILE PHOTO: Tanzanian President John Magufuli

PortandTerminal.com, April 30, 2020

“Coronavirus is a devil. It cannot live in the body of Christ. It will burn instantly. This is a time to build our faith.” 

DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA – Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has ruled out the possibility of locking down the commercial hub, Dar es Salaam because of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The economic cost to the country of locking down the country’s business hub and the main port city would be too great Magufuli argues.

RELATED: Tanzanian President tells China what to do with their $10 billion port loan

“There are those who have suggested that we lockdown Dar es Salaam. This is not possible, “said the President. “Dar es Salaam is the only centre where we collect almost 80 per cent of the country’s revenue, we can continue taking all measures to curb the virus but not by locking down Dar es Salaam” he added.

Three days of national prayer

People in a church praying
Photo: Catholics gathering at church to worship in Tanzania as the coronavirus takes hold and spreads

Earlier in April, President John Magufuli took to the altar of a church to say he would not introduce lockdown measures. He insisted God alone can deal with the pandemic and called for three days of national prayer.

During his sermon, Magufuli is quoted as saying that the “satanic COVID-19 does not reside in the body of Jesus” as called for people to flock to churches.

“I insist upon you my fellow Christians and even [Muslims], do not be afraid, do not stop gathering yourself to glorify God and praise Him,”

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli

The president openly encouraging Tanzanians to shun medical advice on social distancing in the name of religion has infuriated many in the country.

“If the Mecca’s grand mosque and the Rome St Peter’s Basilica can close due to COVID-19, Tanzanians can be called upon to pray from home too” writes Deogratias Munishi, Head of Foreign Affairs of the Main Opposition Party in Tanzania.

Calculated or incompetent?

Deogratias Munishi, Head of Foreign Affairs of the Main Opposition Party in Tanzania, Chadema
Deogratias Munishi, Head of Foreign Affairs of the Main Opposition Party in Tanzania, Chadema

Munishi’s op-ed questions the motives of Tanzania’s President Magufuli and calls them either calculated or incompetent.

It is ordinary people that will pay for this. Tanzania will be hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak that Magufuli is incubating and our broken healthcare system will suffer.

Deogratias Munishi

He points out that Tanzania has shut down schools, political gatherings and sporting activities while keeping open churches and mosques. He suggests that the president’s desperate need for support from the country’s religious institutions to help his re-election campaign is the real motive behind his seemingly non-sensical actions.

COVID-19 in Tanzania

Street vendor selling face masks. Motorcycles. Shop in background
20 March 2020: A man sells face masks on the streets of Arusha a few days after the first reported Covid-19 case in Tanzania. (Photograph by Jaclynn Ashly)

Officially, Tanzania has 480 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths. If that sounds unbelievable for a country of over 56 million people, that’s because it is exactly that – unbelievable. The country only has a single testing lab and has been criticized in the past by the WHO for its lack of transparency regarding reports of Ebola cases.

Dar es Saalam

Aerial view of the Dar es Saalam with its port in the foreground
FILE PHOTO: Aerial view of the Dar es Saalam with its port in the foreground

Dar es-Salaam is the largest city and former capital of Tanzania. It is also the largest city in East Africa and the seventh-largest in Africa, with a population of 6,701,650. Located on the east coast of Africa, Dar-es-Salaam is an important economic centre and one of the fastest-growing cities in the world.

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