Ever since the first cases of coronavirus were detected on the African continent most countries went in nationwide lockdown. Tanzania took a relaxed approach as they were never on a full-scale lockdown. There were fears from the public and other officials of a serious outbreak due to relaxed preventative measures. Tanzania with 480 coronavirus cases and 17 deaths has the highest number of cases in East Africa. The President has come out to blame the high number of cases on officials inflating figures seeking donor funding. Further blame has also been attributed to allegedly faulty kits from the west after the test kits gave positive results on samples from goat, lamb, and pawpaw.
The Tanzanian government has been criticized by specialists on how they reacted and continue to react to the Covid-19 outbreak. The President refused to put the country on a nationwide lockdown. Schools are closed and there is the prohibition of public gatherings. However, churches remain open and businesses continue to operate. There have been concerns that without proper regulation and implementation of preventative measures, the virus can continue to spread within the country. President Magufuli has urged people to “pray the virus away” and has urged them that “a body of Christ” will not contract the virus. This advice has been heavily criticized because of the seriousness of the pandemic.
It comes as no surprise that Tanzania has the highest number of covid19 cases in the Eastern region. Tanzania’s dealing with the virus has been criticized and faced public scrutiny because of lacking transparency. Videos made the rounds on social media of officials disposing of dead bodies at night. The authenticity of the videos was never confirmed but the general citizenry expressed their concern that the numbers are being reduced to avoid panic. There are no constant updates on tests being conducted and active cases in the country.
The reaction of the Tanzanian leadership to the outbreak of coronavirus is heavily criticized. Amid the criticism, President Magufuli is now blaming officials of doctoring the numbers upwards to source for more donor funding to help combat the virus. He has also directed blame on western test kits both imported and those who came as aid as being faulty. He was quoted as saying “not all aid is good”, he believes that the test kits show false results after he secretly sent samples from a goat and pawpaw marked has human samples. After the animal and fruit samples returned positive results the President is convinced that the test kits are faulty. He alleges the faulty test kits are the reason there is a high number of cases reported.
The assertions by the Tanzanian leader now seem like a desperate witch hunt after they already failed to handle the outbreak of covid19 within Tanzania. The issue of faulty test kits is not new as Spain recorded similar issues with their test kits. Some African states complained about similar faulty test kits that they got as aid from China. However, in Tanzania, the president is sharing the blame between officials falsifying the number for money and faulty test kits.
Three members of parliament have died of suspected covid19 complications. The biggest opposition party, Chadema has since asked its members to suspend attending parliament sessions amid fears the virus may have struck the heart of government. President Magufuli dismissed their concerns and accused them of being used by imperialists and demanded the suspension of payment of their allowances. The President has been accused of openly putting people’s lives at risk because of failing to implement strict measures and further demanding attendance in the parliament of the opposition.
The suspicions of reduced cases being reported in Tanzania might never be confirmed. The citizens will have to be disciplined enough to practice preventative measures. The President does not seem eager to implement more stringent measures as he stated his intention to re-open the soccer league which was suspended.
Despite the poor response by the Tanzanian government, faulty test kits have been reported by a lot of countries during this pandemic and it is irresponsible for producers to allow the dispatching of faulty kits. The continuance can have grave consequences because countries will be working on the wrong information. It is of paramount importance that test kits be checked before being dispatched and receiving nations should do the same before officially using them.