Tanzania Opposition Stop Going to Parliament After Three MPs Die

(Bloomberg) -- Tanzania’s biggest opposition party asked its members to suspend attending parliament sessions after a minister became the third lawmaker to die in 11 days.

Justice Minister Augustine Mahiga died suddenly on Friday morning in the capital, Dodoma, President John Magufuli announced in an emailed statement. He was 74.

Mahiga’s demise followed the death of Getrude Rwakatare on April 20 and Richard Ndassa nine days later. The authorities haven’t given information on causes of the deaths, prompting speculation after Covid-19 cases in the country jumped to 480 and 16 deaths in one month.

Members of the Chadema party “should immediately stop attending parliament sessions and should not go anywhere near parliament offices,” Chairman Freeman Mbowe said in a statement on Friday. The party also asked it’s lawmakers to go into self-isolation for 14 days on fears the coronavirus outbreak could be wider than reported.

‘Fear-Mongering’

On April 20, Deputy Speaker Tulia Ackson announced that one lawmaker, she didn’t identify, was infected with the virus.

The government hasn’t linked the politicians’ deaths to the virus, and Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa on Wednesday said “fear-mongering” should stop. “We forget that there are other deadly diseases out there such as malaria, blood pressure, diabetes and AIDS,” he said.

Criticism of Magufuli’s approach to the pandemic is mounting, being one of few African leaders to have shied away from movement restrictions, saying they will devastate the economy.

Chadema also asked parliament’s leadership to suspend sessions on the budget for 21 days and test all members and staff for the virus.

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