ZANZIBAR, 18 February 2021 – The Vice President of Zanzibar and a top aide of the president have become the most high-profile officials to succumb to COVID-19 in Tanzania.
The first vice-president of the country’s semi-autonomous islands of Zanzibar, Seif Sharif Hamad, and top aide to President John Magufuli, Chief Secretary John Kijazi, died within hours of each other.
Kijazi, who is also the head of the Tanzanian civil service died within hours of Hamad who also died Tuesday, nearly three weeks after his political party said he had tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Kijazidied Tuesday night in the capital, Dodoma, while receiving treatment at the Benjamin Mkapa Hospital, according to a statement from the president’s office.
The statement did not disclose the cause of death, but family and medical sources told reporters that he died from complications from COVID-19.
World Health Organization experts have accused the authorities in Tanzania, beginning with President Magufuli, of either downplaying the threat posed by COVID-19, deny that the virus exists in Tanzania or claiming that it has been defeated in Tanzania thanks to prayers and a miracle from God.
Magufuli has continued to call for prayers and urged citizens to use herbal remedies to counter the virus.
His government has said it has no plan to import COVID-19 vaccines.
The government of neighboring Burundi has joined Tanzania in declaring that it has no plans to import COVID-19 vaccines.