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Zanzibar's 1st vice-president dies after testing positive for COVID-19

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | | Updated: 2021-02-18 20:04
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The first vice-president of Tanzania's Zanzibar Island, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, died Wednesday morning, weeks after being hospitalized with COVID-19. Zanzibar President Hussein Mwinyi said he had learned with great sadness of the passing of Hamad, a prominent politician who also was chairman of the Alliance for Change and Transparency Party.

"At around 5 am this morning, Maalim Seif passed away. Maalim died while undergoing treatment at Muhimbili Hospital where he had been admitted since Feb 9," Mwinyi said.

"On behalf of the people of Zanzibar, I take this opportunity to pass my condolences to the family, relatives, Alliance for Change and Transparency Party, and to all the people of Zanzibar and ask them to stay calm during this mourning period. The nation has really lost a patriotic leader. I also declare seven days of mourning and the national flag will fly at half-mast." he added.

The cause of death has not been officially made public, but on Jan 31, Hamad was hospitalized in the East African Island after testing positive for COVID-19. He became the first person to declare his COVID-19 status in Tanzania since April last year, as authorities dismissed the idea the virus was present in the country.

According to local reports, on Feb 1 Hamad was admitted at MnaziMmoja Hospital in Dar es Salaam and he confirmed he had tested positive for COVID-19. In a Twitter post on Wednesday, John Magufuli,Tanzania's president, sent his condolences to Zanzibar's president and the people of Zanzibar, saying he was saddened by Hamad's passing.

"I have received with profound shock the news of the death of the Honorable Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, the first vice-president of Zanzibar," he tweeted.

Hamad was born on the island of Pemba, part of the Zanzibar archipelago. He was a member of Tanzania's sole governing party Chama Cha Mapinduzi, and served as Zanzibar's chief minister until he was expelled and imprisoned for two years in 1989.

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