TANZANIA’S president, John Magufuli (61), has died,

Hassan said Magufuli had “… died from a heart illness”. Hassan is set to become the first woman president in the six-nation East African Community, said the newswire service.

Magufuli is most regarded in the mining sector for extracting a settlement from Barrick Gold, including a $300m cash payment, related to tax claims against Acacia Mining, a UK-listed gold mining firm Barrick controlled.

Following two years in which gold concentrate exports from Acacia were banned, Barrick agreed to put the Acacia mines into a joint venture company that split proceeds from gold sales. Acacia was first bought out by Barrick Gold.

Magufuli won early praise for tackling corruption, reducing wasteful government spending, and improving the lives of poor farmers by waiving dozens of taxes, said Bloomberg News.

He also spearheaded the development of new transport links, power plants, and more than 1,700 health centres, investments that helped Tanzania’s economy become one of the world’s top performers, it said.

Amid campaigning for a second term – which he won in October – Magufuli told Tanzanians the country was free of the Covid-19 pandemic. He also discouraged the use of face masks and advised his people to pray and undergo steam therapy to safeguard their health, said Bloomberg News.

While most of the rest of the world clamored to access vaccines, his administration eschewed them and said it was working on developing alternative natural remedies, the newswire said.

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