- President Cyril Ramaphosa has conveyed his condolence after the death of Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli.
- Magufuli's death in a Dar es Salaam hospital at the age of 61 was announced on Wednesday.
- Vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan is set to take over and become the country's first female president.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has conveyed his condolences, in his "personal capacity and on behalf of all South Africans", to Tanzanian vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan after it was confirmed that President John Magufuli had died.
President @CyrilRamaphosa has expressed his deep sadness at the passing of His Excellency President John Pombe Magufuli of the United Republic of Tanzania.President Magufuli passed away on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 in a Dar es Salaam hospital, aged 61. https://t.co/EkBL52Gejx pic.twitter.com/7V2hGhaLlW— Presidency | South Africa ???? (@PresidencyZA) March 18, 2021
In a statement on Thursday morning, Ramaphosa's office said he had spoken to Hassan telephonically.
In an evening broadcast on Tanzanian television on Wednesday night, Hassan announced that Magufuli, 61, died in a hospital in Dar es Salaam of "chronic atrial fibrillation, a condition that he has had for more than 10 years".
Magufuli's absence from the public eye for the past three weeks sparked rumours that he was ill and there were reports that he had contracted Covid-19.
As recently as Friday, the Tanzanian government was still denying the rumours and said Magufuli was in good health and working.
Magufuli's last tweet was on 22 February, when he conveyed his condolences after the death of Tanzania's central banker, Benno Ndulu.
Nimesikitishwa na kifo cha Prof. Benno Ndulu (Ex-Governor BOT). Pole kwa familia na wafiwa wote. Nitamkumbuka kwa ushauri wake wa kuimarisha uchumi wa nchi yetu hususani mageuzi ktk sekta ya fedha. Alikuwa mchapakazi na mnyenyekevu. Mungu aiweke roho yake mahali pema peponi,Amina— Dr John Magufuli (@MagufuliJP) February 22, 2021
Exiled opposition leader Tundu Lissu claimed that Magufuli was flown to Kenya for treatment, but there was no official confirmation of this.
Magufuli declared Tanzania free of the Covid-19 pandemic in April last year, and the country stopped recording infections.
A number of high-ranking Tanzanians died in recent weeks, including Zanzibar's first vice-president, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad.
In terms of Tanzania's constitution, Hassan, also 61, should take over for the remainder of Magufuli's presidential term until the 2025 elections.
Hassan, from the semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago, is set to become the country's first female president and the first Muslim female head of state on the continent.
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