By Frank Kamuntu
“Hotel owners, barbers, companies and businesses are all back to work. By Sunday, everyone should be happy … our God has won (the virus fight) for us. Turn on your music, that day I have given you freedom,” these are the words of Paul Makonda, regional commissioner of Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania.
His pronouncement is the latest in the Tanzanian government’s posture towards a virus that has led to the imposition of lockdowns and enforcement of physical distancing in most African countries.
During his address to a church congregation over the weekend, President Magufuli echoed the ‘God factor’ in battling the virus, which he said was being defeated by the country.
“There is not going to be any such thing as lockdown in Tanzania, God will help us. We need to work hard, once the other East Africans are done with their lockdown, they will come to us, and we shall still help them with food, we will not discriminate against them,” Makonda said.
Tanzania’s COVID-19 case count has been at 509 for weeks now. No new data have been released and government has dismissed a health alert by the US embassy about overwhelmed hospitals in the largest city, Dar es Salaam.
Tanzania Accuses Kenya Of Sabotage
The Tanzanian region of Arusha says Kenya is engaging in actions meant to affect its tourist potential by issuing faulty COVID-19 test results for cross-country truck drivers.
Regional commissioner Mrisho Gambo in a statement of May 20 said nineteen drivers who were declared positive by Kenya tested negative in Tanzania.
“In efforts to confirm reliability of COVID-19 test results, we took samples from 19 drivers from Tanzania who had tested and been declared positive by Kenyan authorities at Namanga border on Kenyan side.
“After these samples were submitted to our main national laboratory in Dar es Salaam, the results came back as negative for all these drivers from Tanzania. Arusha region is confident that this is a deliberate sabotage strategy designed by Kenya against our tourism industry in Arusha and Tanzania at large,” the statement read in part.
The commissioner noted that drivers declared “positive” were not allowed to cross the border into Tanzania or enter Kenya. He said Arusha remained committed to finding an amicable solution with Kenyan authorities.
The development comes a day after Kenya announced that over 180 foreigners had been returned to Tanzania after testing positive for the virus. Kenya has closed its side of the border due to virus spread.
Zambia also recently shut a common border with Tanzania. The town of Nakonde remains Zambia’s most infected area having recorded much more cases that the capital Lusaka.