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Africa’s ‘Bulldozer’ Runs Into Covid-19, Claims God on His Side

  • Magufuli’s approach is souring relations in East Africa
  • Tanzanian authorities haven’t published virus data since April
John Magufuli
John MagufuliPhotographer: Michele Spatari/AFP via Getty Images

Tanzania’s maverick President John Magufuli has used his strong personality to cow corrupt civil servants and force foreign mining companies to pay millions of dollars in outstanding tax. The coronavirus may be less responsive.

Last week, he became the first African leader to declare victory over the virus, even though health data haven’t been released for more than a month. He’s criticized the national laboratory for exaggerating the number of infections, dismissed health experts and discouraged the wearing of masks, all the while saying God will protect Tanzania. Restrictions on social gatherings such as weddings will be lifted from June 29, when schools can reopen.