Zanzibar’s first vice president Seif Sharif Hamad, who led the island’s opposition for three decades, died Wednesday, the president said, after he had been hospitalised for over three weeks with coronavirus.
Tanzania and its semi-autonomous island Zanzibar have played down the threat of the virus, which President John Magufuli has said has been fended off by prayer.
However Hamad’s ACT-Wazalendo party announced in January that the 77-year-old had been hospitalised with the virus.
“Hamad died this morning at Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar es Salaam where he was hospitalised,” Zanzibar president Ali Hassan Mwinyi said in a short speech broadcast by state-run ZBC television.
“The nation has really lost a patriotic leader. I also declare seven days of mourning and the national flag will fly half-mast during.”
Magufuli also expressed his condolences in a message on Twitter.
Neither leader mentioned the cause of death.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has also sent a message of condolence to His Excellency Hon. Dr. Hussein Mwinyi, President of Zanzibar and the People of the autonomous Indian Ocean archipelago following the death of Hon. Hamad.
The President mourned the veteran Zanzibari politician, who was also the Chairman of ACT Wazalendo Party, as a popular, wise and progressive leader whose contribution to the progress of his people and the East African region shall be dearly missed.
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