By Merjeed F Anguiza
Kenyan opposition ODM party leader Raila Odinga has accused Tanzania President John Pombe Magufuli of ignoring phone calls from regional leaders who are concerned about the Covid-19 pandemic situation in Tanzania.
According to Raila, Dr. Magufuli has refused to heed calls from his Eat African counterparts including President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame to institute measures that would slow down the spread of the virus.
“I’ve tried to reach him on phone but I’ve not managed to, and I’ve left him a message on his SMS that I would like to discuss issues of national, regional, and continental importance with him. I think that he as a nationalist need to get information from fellow leaders because this is a regional issue and if we do not control it in Kenya it will affect Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Burundi because our destiny is tied together,” he said.
Raila was speaking to BBC, where he revealed that other countries could be forced to close the borders against Tanzania whose Covid-19 situation could worsen unless Magufuli shunned the unconventional means.
“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,” Raila said.
Tanzania has so far recorded 509 Covid-19 cases, 183 recoveries, and 21 deaths, among them three MPs.
Magufuli has in the recent past been accused of not being serious with the fight against COVID-19 after he declined to close down churches and border points of entry.
He has ignored calls for a lockdown, instead of encouraging his countrymen to ‘chapa kazi’ (work hard) in their farms and businesses.
He also announced that he was ordering a herbal drug from Madagascar to treat COVID-19 in the country.
The herbal drug was launched by Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina on April 20, 2020. The Head of State said two people had been cured.
Rajoelina said that the plant-based tonic will be given free of charge to the most vulnerable.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) recently warned the use of the drug to treat the novel Coronavirus.
WHO said there is no proof that the drug can cure COVID-19.
Speaking on Sunday during the swearing-in ceremony of the newly-appointed Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister, Dr. Mwigulu Nchemba, Magufuli said his government is in communication with Madagascar and a team will be sent to get the drug.
“Ninawasiliana na Madagascar na wameshaandika barua. Wanasema kuna dawa zimepatikana kule, tutatuma ndege kule na dawa zile zitaletwa pia ili Watanzania nao waweze kufaidika nayo…Sisi serikali tupo na tunafanya kazi usiku na mchana (I have information that a (COVID-19) cure has been found in Madagascar. We will soon send a plane to get us the drug so that Tanzanians can also benefit from it),” said Magufuli.