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How Covid-19 revealed Magufuli as genius global leader

THE way Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli has handled the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated yet again that he is in away a genius global leader.

While most of global and regional leaders were panicking and locking down businesses including imposing curfew to their people, President Magufuli chose to go the other path and stood by it. One of important traits of a good leader is to provide leadership to people on what he/she believes in and remain focused.

The President has done that against all odds. The first thing he did was to allay fears to Tanzanians that Covid-19 is a disease just like other ailment, noting that people ought not to panic, because fear is more dangerous than Coronavirus itself, and this statement helped a great deal to easy public tension.

He refused to ‘lockdown’ his people and businesses, arguing that no one knows for how long the pandemic would last. Locking down people and closing businesses would have greater social and economic impact than the impact of the disease itself.

While insisting and reminding people to observe basic Covid-19 hygienic procedures, such as frequently washing hands and wearing masks, he urged them to carry on with their own normal businesses, especially workers. This move helped millions of Tanzanians, who depend on daily activities to earn a living make their ends meet.

President Magufuli was the first leader to doubt the efficacy of the face masks imported from abroad, where instead; he encouraged local industries to produce masks and tailors to design clothing masks domestically.

It did not take long before we started hearing other countries complaining that some of their masks imported from certain country were contaminated with Coronavirus. He also doubted the accuracy of the test kits and laboratory equipment used to test the Coronavirus.

He submitted samples taken from a goat, a sheep, a pawpaw, car oil and a bird, where the results were surprisingly weird as some of the samples tested positive and others negative. No one else in the world had thought about this trick!

When he ordered government officials to stop quarantining people arriving from abroad, people were surprised. But he was right; there is no difference between releasing someone today or after 14 days, when the pandemic is already spreading at community level.

What would make the difference is the attitude of the arriving passengers when they mix with people in the community. If they observe basic Covid-19 hygienic procedures, they remain safe and protect others, regardless if they were allowed to integrate on arrival or after 14 days.

The President also stopped government officials from fumigating and spraying the city with chlorine saying that it was not an effective way to combat the pandemic, an argument that was later supported by one of the WHO senior official.

While Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda borrowed a combined $2.3billions from the World Bank, President Magufuli did not want to fall into the debt trap and instead he called on the Briton Wood institution to grant debt relief or debt deferments to countries instead of burdening them with new loans.

Tanzania pays 200bn/- to the World Bank every month and the President called on the global financial institution to allow Tanzania use it to combat Covid-19. One of the reasons the President did not close borders, including the Dar es Salaam Port was the fact that Tanzania borders eight countries.

He said he did not want to affect the welfare of the neighbours. Most of these countries are land-locked depending on Tanzania for their transit goods and for agricultural produce. That’s why I was personally surprised to hear Zambia closing border with Tanzania.

Can you imagine Zambia, a land-locked country closing a border with Tanzania, a country that has port and a Railway line (TAZARA) connected to them? Who stands to lose if Tanzania decides to close the border? Then came Kenya, they also announced that they were closing their borders with Tanzania for fear of Coronavirus spread to Kenyans by Tanzanians.

Just after two days, the Kenyan Ambassador to Tanzania came out at a press conference in Dar es Salaam, after Tanga and Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioners announced ‘minor adjustments’ to border procedures. Probably some countries underestimated the power of Tanzania in the region.

At least they could have repaid the trust that President Magufuli had shown to them by leaving Tanzania open to allow goods and people to flow across borders. A lot of noises have been about why Tanzania is not announcing Covid-19 cases on daily basis like other countries.

When you look at it deeply, apart from creating fear to people, what purpose does it serve? At least this is the experience from Tanzania, the more cases were announced more people became desperate.

When the President asked Tanzanians to use local methods in treatment of Coronavirus, many people did not believe it will work but within a short period of time many people adopted and it worked miracles.

Most of us got Covid-19 like symptoms and became sick but we used home based treatment of inhaling steam from a concoction of traditional medicines/leaves and regular drinking of hot tea with a combination of lime, ginger and honey.

The result is that, according to the President speech on 17th May 2020, there has been a significant drop in cases of patients admitted in hospitals and most of the patients were doing fine. For instance, Amana Hospital which used to admit up to 198 patients had remained with only 12 patients.

Mloganzila Hospital the number has dropped from 30 to six patients, Kibaha Centre from 50 to 22, Arusha and Kilimanjaro have 11 patients with four centres having zero patients. In Mwanza out of 10 centres there were only six patients while in Dodoma the number has gone down to just two cases out of 42.

At Aga Khan Hospital there are 31 patients, Hindu Mandal 16, Regency 17, TMJ 7 and Rabininsia hospital 14. This trend and the figures show that Tanzania is doing much better than its neighbours who are implementing the copy and paste method of lock-down.

At the global level it has been proven that countries with lockdowns such as UK and the US have been far more affected than countries such as Sweden and Taiwan, which did not implement it. Because of the success registered by Tanzania in recent weeks, the President has ordered the opening of the aviation and tourism industries to allow for foreign flights to land in the country as usual.

It is now evident that when Covid-19 will disappear, Tanzania will emerge as a winner as her economy is likely to rebound faster than other countries in the east African region. The good thing is also that while other countries will be swimming into debt, Tanzania will be free from such additional debts.

AS it turns 40 years this summer, the ...

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Author: a Correspondent

20 Comments

  • avatar
    Luka Longo
    21/05/2020

    I proud to be a Tanzanian under strong leadership John Pombe Magufuli due to his tachnic of fighting against Corona19.

  • avatar
    Godwin Mbwambo
    21/05/2020

    Tanzania under President Magufuli has much to proud of. He has shown to the World that we can do differently. Not necessarily following what the Western countries are doing. They have struggled like nothing, but in Tanzania the pandemic was normalized and that reduced people's tension and panic. Not only that but also the task force under the Minister of Health was amazingly operating. But also the best people trusted their leaders. Not like some other countries, not to mention one. we proud for Mr President and his Team.

  • avatar
    Abby (Abdulla) Jan Dharamsey
    22/05/2020

    Maybe referring to our TZ President as a 'genius' and a 'strong global leader' may be inappropriate and little 'over the top.' However, I really admire Mhe John Pombe Magufuli and would call him a realist and pragmatist. While the so called civilised 'Western World' and the renegade perpetrator of #CoronaVirus that is China - The Devil Country, will endure untold damage to their economies for many years, Tanzania and few other African and Asian countries may hopefully lead by example. Over the years, we have had deadly diseases like TB, Typhoid, Smallpox, Malaria etc, and learnt to 'survive and live' with them. So #Covid19 is just another such disease except that, it has sadly affected humankind everywhere. Maybe in perfect 20/20 vision, The Almighty wanted to bring about 'Equalisation' in the world, and to remind us that, Science is insignificant compared to our Faith in The Compassionate, The Merciful, who is above else! 'He' is The Redeemer - so let us put our Trust and Confidence in The Creator. Amen (Aameen)

  • avatar
    Kayizzi
    22/05/2020

    Tanzania are luck to have president Mangufuli. For us here the goverment is using every opportunity from steal from it's people. I envy your president.

  • avatar
    Namubich
    22/05/2020

    Several sections of this newspaper article are incorrectly thought out. A recent global study shows that, just like in Tanzania, hospital visits have declined by over 70 percent due to fear of contacting the civic-19 at hospitals. Secondly, in Africa, mass testing has not been done. Its possible that in Tanzania (and Africa), thousands of citizens are carrying the covid-19, but have high immunity. Let's not cerebrate too early. But, the author should write another article in next 2 months to confirm or refute his loud headline!

  • avatar
    James M
    23/05/2020

    Burying your head in the sand is not genius, it's just dodging the issue! Uganda is tired of identifying Covid 19 cases for Tz. Our health care systems in East Africa are poor, they cannot manage hundreds of cases of severe disease - people will die in thousands - look at Brazil! The first step to dealing with a problem is accepting that the problem exists and something needs to be done. Don't compare this disease to malaria, have you touched someone with malaria and got it? Think of health workers, when they treat these people they run a risk of taking this disease home to their families, some of whom may be elderly with comorbidities!!! Think of tourism, the whole region is going to be a no go area because of Tanzania's recklessness. I am not saying a lockdown is the answer but atleast acknowledge that the disease is a threat. Have some measures put in place to protect your people, wear masks, use sanitizer, restrict social gatherings. Malaria is a bad disease but no one has got it from touching another person - small pox killed people in millions!, the plague in 15th-16th century England was beaten because their king was radical and had all the dead bodies burned!, In West Africa ebola killed hundreds of thousands because they refused to accept isolation and we're touching the dead. So ignoring and belittling Covid 19 is not going to get Tz anywhere, I pray none of you sees your loved ones die. God bless you all

  • avatar
    Oposhia Joseph
    23/05/2020

    I believe the author of the article is basically used to cover Magufuli's failure in the Covid-19 fight. Tanzania has failed to identify their cases in the Community while covering fatalities related to Covid-19, citizens are crossing through the borders to safer countries like uganda, the president is blaming the lab capabilities yet he failed to build strong Healthcare systems and people have only run away from hospitals basically to avoid acquiring nosocomial Covid-19 infection. Early detection of cases, Quarantine and isolation are public health strategies not to cure but minimise disease burden to minimize morbidity and mortality while allowing healthcare facilities to receive manageable numbers. Now a country like Tanzania if you have low validity in case detection, what about now case management. I presume you do not know even your fatality rate since even other countries are helping you detect your community cases. I have learnt in Africa any stupid politics play makes one to be known as being genius.Burying the head on the sand is not hiding from the enemy.

  • avatar
    WILSON
    24/05/2020

    may God bless him and give him more wisdom he is a blessing to this generation

  • avatar
    Carolina Nyakila
    24/05/2020

    We thank God, for president Magufuli. We continue to pray that His leadership is guided by God.

  • avatar
    Emmanuel nasida
    24/05/2020

    Magufuli is genius,.

  • avatar
    Pascal Gumisiriza
    24/05/2020

    I am proud of president Magufuli

  • avatar
    MASHASHI MHOJA
    24/05/2020

    To be honest, MAGUFULI is a genius, let idiots shout garbage however they say, but we still with him.

  • avatar
    Xpat
    24/05/2020

    Mficha maradhi, kifo humuumbua. Nyie mnaosema ameshindwa, je baba zenu na mama zenu wamekufa kwa corona?

  • avatar
    Tim Kendricks
    25/05/2020

    Firstly, this article is way unbalanced, lopsided and partisan. Everything listed is seem a positive. I mostly agree to the financial approach adopted and the attempt to make masks internally. But surely there must be some negatives alongside this "rosy picture" being painted. To me this article bares all the hallmarks of a government propaganda machinery. And I wonder why someone is labouring the effort and I also note this publication is a TZ news outlet. But is it this a fair and balanced opinion? I'd say NO. Secondly, it's laughable to even suggest Magufuli is "a genius" and "a global leader". I think his approach to this pandemic is myopic, reckless and dangerous too. To be referred to as above is untimely, innapropriate and way over the top - because he's not. However, I do applaud his pragmatism. He appears to be a realist, practical and he comes a cross as a person who has to see to believe. I hear he's a scientist and yet he doesn't appear to believe in abstract things. And it's in this practical realism that his dangerousness lies. Back to the article, several sections and assertions are simply false - going by other on the ground Tanzanian factual media reports, western intelligence reports, people's reports and other global health monitoring agencies. I don't see anything genius in President Magufuli hiding his head in the sand to this global pandemic. To me he appears to be trivialising this pandemic and it's effects. And yet the starting point should be accepting a HUGE problem exists and that novel measures need to be applied to manage the situation. The entire East and Central African region is going to be affected simply because of President Magufuli's myopic and foolhardy approach. I worry that not only in Tanzania but also regionally, the repercussions on all levels - social, political, economic etc are going to be wider and far-reaching for years to come. We pray this is not the case. Pres. Magufuli may have believed that total lock-down was not an option but the science of the disease is clear; there has got to be some form of limitations and restrictions to social gatherings and movement. I hear Ebola killed lots and loads of people in West Africa simply because they did not heed the advice when told to isolate and not to touch the dead. Pres. Magufuli being pig-headed and stubbornly ignoring established scientific advice is to me foolhardy, reckless, irresponsible and objectionable. We read reports of people fleeing Tanzania into neighbouring countries especially through the porous borders of Uganda and other neighbouring countries. Why do they flee when it's all nice and rosy where they're fleeing from? We heard about the testing of all fruits and other things which returned +ve tests to COVID. But that's a different issue. It's a question of defective testing equipment from China. These were fake products. I noted the author could not mention China by name (a clue the author is a govt hand who did not want to upset the Chinese). It beggers belief that Pres. Mugufuli the so-called "genius" and "global leader" does not even appreciate simple basic public health guidance that the early detection of diseases, quarantining and isolation are public health strategies aimed to minimise disease burden projection and reduce mortalies allowing healthcare systems to handle, cope and flourish under global health pandemics. Am sure Tanzanian healthcare systems are not any different from many in the developing world. There's evidence that Tanzania is doctoring it's COVID numbers and fatalities. This article is biased, one-sided the product of a propaganda machinery aimed at painting an amazing situation. But I suspect it's a response to the growing discontent at home here in Tanzania as now questions are being asked of Pres. Magufuli's approach because we hear people are dying in big numbers. He's no genius and he's nowhere near a global leader. I think the author is a little and kind of deluded. #JustMyOpinion

  • avatar
    dickens odongkara
    25/05/2020

    At least TZ have not borrowed loans like other countries, TZ seems blessed with good leaders they once have Julius Kambarage Nyerere who stood out against the imperialist. COVID-19 may not go soon and peoples needs to learn how to live with it.

  • avatar
    Stable genius
    25/05/2020

    It was clear right from the beginning that mass lockdown was not a sustainable solution to the COVID-19. I was surprised that most of the African countries immediately jumped onto the bandwagon of lockdowns copied without any modifications from the rich western countries. The result has been much more suffering for the poor who could not afford to feed themselves under the conditions of the lockdown. I see the western media trying to blackmail president Magufuli for the way he has handled the COVID-19 while keeping a blind eye on countries like Sweden that did not impose any lockdowns too.

  • avatar
    martin
    25/05/2020

    The worst thing our Kenyan president did was to close churches and remain adamant yet opening restaurants and bars.interesting where our leader places value

  • avatar
    Nak Mic
    25/05/2020

    There is a lot of contradictions in your story. First the no's of patients reducing in hospitals is a sign of fear of getting Covid19. U cannot claim success yet u don't have figures to prove u don't have covid19 yet you reported deaths when it entered Uganda. Lockdowns are not punishiment s they are designed to break the covid19 cycle as u plan other intervations.

  • avatar
    Rehema Sigali
    26/05/2020

    Not following guidelines given by CDC is probably not a genius idea. Infact it's the opposite, the spread of disease is not a joke. But I am guessing countries that are so poor and a large part of the population has no savings makes it hard to enforce a lockdown. Nevertheless, businesses should stay open, but opening churches for prayers and opening back bars - these are not good ideas. I pray that Tanzanians form a natural immunity to the disease and are not affected with an outburst of cases. Frankly the country would not have the infrastructure or capacity to deal with such a pandemic. The article is pretty biased and just appeasing the current political leaders.

  • avatar
    Raymond
    26/05/2020

    This Guy Is A Gift From God For Tanzania. Am Proud Of Him. Congs President Magufuli.

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