Our economy comes first in Covid-19 fight, says Magufuli
Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli on Sunday said that Tanzania’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic is in such a way that the country’s economy comes first and above everything else.
“We have had a number of viral diseases, including Aids and measles. Our economy must come first. It must not sleep. If we allow our economy to sleep, we will not receive salaries….Church offerings will cease if we announce a lockdown….Life must go on,” he said.
Speaking during a Sunday service at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania in his Chato hometown, President Magufuli said being an independent nation, Tanzania will not agree to be “ruled” by Covid-19.
He said the country decided to leave its borders open because of the belief in the integration of regional economies.
“We share borders with about eight countries and if we close our borders, we will be destroying their economies,” said President Magufuli, noting that some countries depend on Tanzania for their daily food.
“They get maize, rice, meat and milk from us. If we close the borders, you also close economic opportunities to people but more importantly, you deny food to those who depend on you,” he said.
Food from Tanzania
He urged citizens to keep working hard, saying that those that have decided to lockdown their countries will need food from Tanzania next year.
“We may not see the impact at present but I am sure there will be a serious food shortage next year because demand will be high in countries that are on lockdown. Demand will be high there because their people have stopped being productive... That will be the right time for those of us who work hard to help our colleagues because they will have no food,” he said.
He urged Tanzanians not to be biased against people from countries which went into lockdown, saying Tanzania is keeping cordial relations with peers within the East Africa Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).
“We are together in seeking development but when it comes to finding solutions to challenges, we may employ different measures. There is no way you can have your own house but receive orders from someone on what you should do at any given time,” he said.
He said so far, Tanzania’s economy is on the right path and that the country is removing the requirement for quarantine on tourists in order to boost tourism.
“As I am talking here, some airlines are fully-booked until August with tourists who want to visit Tanzania,” he said.
According to President Magufuli, those coming to Tanzania will do so because they know the truth about Covid-19 and because Tanzania is a good place to visit.
He said he has instructed the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism and his Transport counterpart to allow the airplanes to land on Tanzania’s soil and that when the visitors come, they will not be quarantined.
“So long as their body temperatures do not show anything unusual, I will allow them to proceed and view Tanzania’s wild animals,” he said.
He called upon Tanzanians to keep taking precautionary measures against Covid-19, saying some people might try to deliberately infecting Tanzanians with the coronavirus.