The leading opposition party in Tanzania has accused the ruling government of covering up the true extent of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement issued on Friday, CHADEMA party’s Secretary-General, John Mnyika, slammed the CCM-led government of John Pombe Magufuli for dishonesty and told authorities to procure COVID-19 vaccines like other African countries.
The call comes days after other political leaders and professional groups expressed similar sentiments accusing government for abdicating its duty to protect the lives of the people amidst a deadly pandemic.
Zitto Kabwe, party leader of the Alliance for Change and Transparency (the third largest political party in Tanzania and main opposition in Zanzibar), last month told reporters that the leadership in power are operating under pretense and ashamed of backtracking on earlier claims that the country was COVID-19 free.
The lawyer’s fraternity under Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) also recently called on the Tanzanian government to declare the presence of Covid-19 in the country, and announced mandatory preventive measures to it’s members after losing 25 lawyers last month.
While her neighbor Kenya rolled out a mass vaccination program on Friday, and other neighboring countries like Uganda and Rwanda prepare to do the same, Tanzanai has not yet issued a plan to have it’s citizens vaccinated.
Tanzania adopted a strange strategy in dealing with the issue of the novel coronavirus in contrast with the approach adopted by its neighbors in East Africa, especially in light of the recent increase in cases of COVID-19 infections.
As early as May 2020, President Magufuli rushed to resort to traditional treatments, especially the treatment announced by Madagascar, although the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that there are no indications that this herbal remedy works.
Magufuli later came out to declare that his country was COVID-19 free and the country’s health ministry stopped announcing any new cases of the virus. The exact numbers of cases and deaths in Tanzania remain unknown.
Even when countries were rushing to place orders for COVID-19 vaccines later in the year 2020, Magufuli’s government seemed unbothered with the pandemic despite reports that hospitals were overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
In December 2020, the spokesman for the Tanzania’s Ministry of Health, Gerald Chami, said that his country does not intend to import any vaccine against the novel coronavirus noting that his country was pinning its hopes on research on finding a cure for the virus, extracted from local herbs.
On Feb 2, 2021, in Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital, the health minister Dorothy Gwajima announced that the country “has no plans in place to accept COVID-19 vaccines”.
The minister’s message came days after President John Magufuli expressed doubt about vaccines sourced abroad, without offering evidence. He said the health ministry will only adopt vaccinations after they had been certified by Tanzania’s own experts.
In full glare of cameras, Gwajima and the health officials drank a herbal concoction including ginger, garlic, and lemons, and inhaled steam from herbs, promoting them as natural means of killing the virus. Gwajima went on to warn journalists about reporting unofficial figures on COVID-19 or any disease.