John Magufuli, Tanzanian leader who mocked Covid, dies at 61

John Magufuli in Pretoria in 2019

Photographer: Michele Spatari / AFP / Getty Images

Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who drew widespread criticism for his denial of the coronavirus pandemic, died just five months after winning a second term in a contested election. He was 61 years old.

“We have lost our brave leader, President John Magufuli, who died of heart disease,” Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan said on state television on Wednesday. He announced 14 days of national mourning.

Nicknamed ‘The Bulldozer’ for his aggressive leadership style, Magufuli earned early accolades for fighting corruption, reducing government waste, and improving the lives of farmers by eliminating dozens of taxes. He also spearheaded the development of new transport links, power plants and more than 1,700 health centers, investments that helped the Tanzanian economy become one of the best performing in the world.


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