Tanzania government defends its handling of outbreak

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa

Dar es Salaam. The government yesterday defended its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying people need to understand that there were pros and cons associated with any decision it makes.

While Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya have imposed partial or total lockdowns, Tanzania has not done so, and this has attracted criticism from some quarters.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam yesterday during interdenominational prayers against Covid-19, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said the government was aware that some Tanzanians wanted to see tougher measures taken against the pandemic.

He added that every measure taken so far had its advantages and disadvantages, and that the government was evaluating the impact of its decisions.

“Tanzanians should maintain trust in the government. You should continue to trust our experts who are behind every decision we make,” Mr Majaliwa said.

Tanzania, which had reported 284 Covid-19 cases by yesterday, had not imposed a blanket ban on economic activities to protect livelihoods, he said

“However, it is advisable to that we measures to curb the spread of the disease.

“If you cannot avoid crowded areas, then take precautionary measures, including wearing a facemask and maintain a distance of at least two metres from other people.”

However, Tanzania has not completely diverged from the rest of the world, and a few days ago the government, through the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA), suspended international commercial passenger flights.

The government has also closed schools, colleges and universities indefinitely, and reiterated regular washing of hands with running water and soap.

Mr Majaliwa said yesterday that God had a role to play in the fight against Covid-19, adding that that was why the government had joined hands with religious leaders in praying for the nation.

“Regardless of their economic status, countries across the globe have been seriously impacted by the coronavirus, and it’s time we sought divine intervention.”

Mr Majaliwa, however, asked religious leaders to guard against overcrowding in houses of worship.

“Prayers in houses of worship are desirable, but we need to take the necessary precautions.”

World Vision Tanzania Country director Gilbert Kamanga said the country would go through the crisis with the help of God, adding that prayer had a pivotal role to play during these difficult times.

“We at World Vision see faith leaders as a ray of hope,” Mr Kamanga said.

“I know there are others who don’t believe in prayer. That is their perspective, but let those of us who believe keep on praying.

“Let’s not wait for the government to take drastic measures. Let’s use the wisdom given to us by God to make to make the right decisions.”

Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) secretary-general Charles Kitima said Covid-19 had much to do with both science and faith, and asked Tanzanians to abide by the government’s directives.

“We need to abide by the government’s directives. In countries that have had success in containing Covid-19, people have strictly adhered to government directives,” he said. His sentiments were echoed by Chief Sheikh Abubakar Zubeir bin Ally.

“I commend the government for cooperating with faith leaders in the fight against Covid-19,” he said.