Dar es Salaam — President John Magufuli said on Sunday that Tanzania's handling of Covid-19 was in such a way that the country's economy comes first and above everything else.
"We have had a number of viral diseases, including AIDS and Measles. Our economy must come first. It must not sleep. If we allow our economy to sleep, we will not receive salaries... .Church offerings will cease if we announce a lockdown... .Life must go on," he said.
Speaking during a Sunday Service at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania at his Chato hometown on Sunday, May 17, 2020, President Magufuli said being an independent nation, Tanzania will not allow to be ruled by Covid-19.
He said the country decided to leave its borders open because of a belief in the integration of regional economies.
"We share borders with about eight countries and if we close our borders, we will be destroying their economies," said President Magufuli, noting that some countries depend on Tanzania for their daily food.
"They get maize, rice, meant (because we lead in the number of livestock in the region) and milk from us. If we close the borders, you also close economic opportunities to people but more importantly, you deny food to those who depend on you," he said.
He urged Tanzanians to keep working hard, saying those that have decided to lockdown their countries will need food from Tanzania next year.
"We may not see the impact at present but I am sure, there will be a serious food shortage next year because demand will be high in countries that have are on lockup. Demand will be high there because their people have stopped being productive... That will be the right time for those of us who work hard to help our colleagues because they will have no food," he said.
He urged Tanzanians to desist any attempt to segregate against people from countries that went into lockdown, saying Tanzania was keeping cordial relations with peers within the East Africa Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (Sadc).
"We are together in seeking development but when it comes to finding solutions to challenges, we may employ different measures. There is no way you can have your own house but receive orders from someone on what you should do at any given time," he said.
He said so far Tanzania's economy was on the right path and that the country was removing the requirement for quarantine on tourists in a deliberate move to boost tourism.
"As I am talking here, some airline operators are fully-booked - until August - with tourists who want to visit Tanzania," he said.
According to President Magufuli, those coming to Tanzania would do so because they know the truth about Covid-19 and because Tanzania was a sweet place to visit.
President Magufulis said he has instructed the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism and his Transport counterpart to allow the airplanes to land on Tanzanian's soil and that when the visitors come, they will not be quarantined.
"So long as their body temperatures do not show anything unusual, I will allow them to proceed and view Tanzania's wild animals," he said.
He called upon Tanzanians to keep taking precautionary measures against Covid-19, saying this was the time when some people somewhere would even think of deliberately infecting Tanzanians with coronavirus.