As Tanzanians mourn for President John Magufuli, whose death was announced on Wednesday due to heart disease, his near three-week absence from public sight prompted a slew of rumours that he was hospitalised in neighbouring Kenya.
According to the Kenyan newspaper the Daily Nation, Magufuli was discharged from Nairobi Hospital while on life support and flown to Tanzania’s capital Dar es Salaam late last week after doctors concluded that he could not be resuscitated.
The publication said he died at Mzena Hospital in Tanzania shortly after arrival from Kenya on Thursday 11 March, countering the announcement by the government that he died a week later on March 17.
Citing sources, the Daily Nation said Magufuli “was flown to Kenya secretly on March 8 after suffering acute cardiac and respiratory illnesses, was under intubation when a decision was made to fly him back home”.
Daily Nation said his entry and exit from Kenya was a guarded affair and that only select National Intelligence Service (NIS) officials and members of the National Security Advisory Committee were aware.
Timeline of Magufuli’s movements, according to the Daily Nation
February 27_:_ Last public sighting of President John Magufuli.
March 6: The date when then vice-president Suluhu later said Magufuli was taken ill.
Date not known: Magufuli’s condition suddenly deteriorates after less than 24 hours at the Tanzanian hospital.
Decision is reportedly made to fly him to South Africa, which has better facilities but doctors advised there was not enough time and was flown to Kenya instead.
March 7- 8: Magufuli is flown to Kenya secretly by air ambulance and lands at Wilson Airport. The runway is closed to other planes.
On arrival at the Nairobi hospital, he is intubated, a procedure where tubes are i inserted in the lungs to aid breathing.
March 11: Maguflui is flown back to Tanzania and arrives at Mzena Hospital. He dies shortly afterwards, according to the Daily Nation.
March 12: Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa says Magufuli is in Tanzania and “working hard as usual”.
March 17: Tanzania’s then vice president Samia Suluhu Hassan announces Magufuli’s death due to heart disease.
Opposition says he died from coronavirus
Tanzania’s opposition leader Tundu Lissu had for the last few weeks alleged Magufuli was ill with coronavirus and as being treated in Kenya and India.
Lissu has been exiled in Belgium since 2017 after gunmen opened fire on him outside his home in a protected government compound, leaving him with 16 bullet wounds.
He briefly returned to Tanzania after being selected to lead the opposition challenge to Magufuli’s re-election in 2020.
The day Magufuli’s death was announced on Wednesday, he told Kenya’s KTV news the president had died from coronavirus a week earlier.
“Magufuli died of corona. That is one. Number two, Magufuli did not die this evening. I have information from basically the same sources which told me he was gravely ill, I have information that Magufuli has been dead since Wednesday of last week,” he told the broadcaster.
The Covid denying president
Magufuli has been playing down the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, claiming Tanzania had freed itself from the Covid” through prayer.
He also rejected any lockdowns or measures such as mask-wearing.
“That’s why we are all not wearing face masks here. You think we don’t fear dying? It’s because there is no Covid-19,” he said.
But Magufuli later admitted what he called a “respiratory disease” was still circulating.