Defying the “West”, Tanzania Banned the Use of Face Masks, Allowed the Schools to Re-open and the Public Transports to Operate


Tanzania's President John Magufuli addresses a news conference during his official visit to Nairobi, Kenya October 31, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

After the president of Tanzania, John Pombe Magufuli, suspended some of the country’s health officials early this month due to controversies regarding the coronavirus test, Tanzania is now again gaining attention as it was reported that Magufuli has banned the use of face masks claiming that “face mask usage has caused anxiety among Tanzanians”. It was trending all over media outlets after the president announced to the world on the first week of May that goats and fruits have been tested positive for COVID-19. He then ordered an investigation for the testing after immediately suspending the director of the laboratory and its quality assurance manager. He also fired the nation’s head of the government Medical Stores Department who is in charge of distributing the medical supplies to government hospitals.

On the 24th of May, less than three weeks after the testing controversy happened, President Magufuli has ordered to implement a ban on face masks and also allowed schools and public transports to operate again. The order was announced by the Director of Presidential Communication in Tanzania via the letter sent to media outlets all over the world.

Here are some texts from the letter sent to the media:

“To The Media,

President of The Republic of Tanzania Dr John Pombe Magufuli has today on 24, May 2020 banned the use of face masks by Tanzanians as the usage has caused fear and panic to Tanzanians leading to some closing down their businesses. His Excellency the President has also allowed normal resumption of public transport as well as normal resumption of schools. We thank God for the defeat against Corona, let’s continue to wash hands to observe hygiene, Bye Corona.”

In addition to this, President Magafuli, along with his ministers, also told the American envoy to Tanzania not to ’cause panic’ to Tanzanians. This is due to the statement by the American embassy in Dar es Salaam, the capital of the country, that “the chance of contracting the virus was “extremely high”. He also added that “America makes up numbers” about coronavirus regarding the cases and deaths. President Magafuli also defied the West’s pressure on putting Tanzania in lockdown by keeping businesses and other establishments open, including churches commenting that “coronavirus cannot survive in churches!”

Tanzania is not the only African country who defied Western pressure during this crisis. Also earlier this month, Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina called for all African countries to quit the World Health Organization (WHO) saying that “Europe created these organizations with the will to keep Africans dependent on them”.  He also added that the WHO offered him $20,000,000 “to put a little toxic in their remedy for coronavirus as the Europeans hacked their Remedy”. In connection to this, he stated, “People be vigilant, the World Health Organization that we have joined by thinking that it will help us, is there to kill Africans”.

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