Ramaphosa sends condolences after Tanzania President Magufuli passes away

John Magufuli died at the age of 61, with the government saying he passed away in a Dar es Salaam hospital on Wednesday.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli reviews a military honour guard before attending the launching ceremony of a one-stop border post to speed up slow customs processing at the border in Mutukula, Uganda, on 9 November 2017. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - President Cyril Ramaphosa has sent condolences to the people of Tanzania after the death of their leader John Magufuli.

Magufuli died at the age of 61, with the government saying he passed away in a Dar es Salaam hospital on Wednesday.

In a statement, Ramaphosa said: “South Africa is united in grief with the government and people of Tanzania as they go through this difficult moment.”

He died after a more than two-week absence from public life that led to speculation about his health.

Magufuli had not been seen in public since 27 February, sparking rumours that he had contracted COVID-19.

The government said he passed away from the heart disease that had plagued him for a decade, but the opposition leader Tundu Lissu said Magufuli had died from the coronavirus, calling his death "poetic justice" after the strongman leader downplayed the severity of the virus.

Burial arrangements are under way and 14 days of mourning will be observed, with flags flying at half-staff.

Officials denied that he had fallen ill and on Monday the vice president urged Tanzanians not to listen to rumours from outside the country.

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