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Raila’s spirited efforts to reach Magufuli prove futile

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has disclosed that he has been unable to speak to Tanzania’s President John Magufuli who has been criticized over lax measures against the coronavirus global pandemic.

The AU High Representative for Infrastructure said his own efforts to reach out to the Tanzanian leader have been futile, and Magufuli is yet to respond to messages left on his automatic answering machine.


Odinga, who is a longtime family friend of President Magufuli, said he had, however, sent voicemail messages to Magufuli’s phone advising the Tanzanian leader to collaborate with regional leaders in the fight against Covid-19.

“As nationalist, he needs to get information from fellow regional leaders… This is a regional issue. Our destiny is tied together. We do not want a situation where any of these countries will have to close their borders. That is why dialogue is the most important thing,” Odinga told the BBC.

Odinga said the region’s destiny is joined at the hip and no country should pull separate moves that could be detrimental to the others.

As a result, he warned, the closely connected region risks descending into a calamity as President Magufuli holds on to his business-as-usual call to Tanzanians.

On Thursday, African Union, which is co-coordinating the continent’s Covid-19 response, rejected claim by the Tanzania president that test kits for the virus are faulty.

AU in a statement, criticised President Magufuli for his approach to dealing with the coronavirus, terming it as lackluster.


Last week, the Tanzanian government suspended the director and quality control manager of its national laboratory pending a probe after the alleged faulty results, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Magufuli’s response to the pandemic has received much criticism, as the East African country has implemented few measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Social distancing is hardly practised in Tanzania, where mosques and churches remain open.

The head of state also suggested praying and herbal steam baths could allegedly help prevent infection.

Almost all other African countries release daily reports on the latest Covid-19 tallies on infections, fatalities and recoveries.

Tanzania’s sluggish response has attracted criticism from the country’s opposition, which accused the Magufuli government of being secretive.

By last week, Tanzania had reported 480 coronavirus cases.