UPDATE 19/03/21 – Tanzania’s vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been officially sworn in as the new President. Details.
After weeks of being out of the public eye, Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has died age 61, according to the country’s Vice President.
The global press are reporting the death of Tanzania’s “Covid denying President” with barely disguised glee.
The official cause of death is rumoured to be a heart attack, but some are implying it may have been due to the virus. The Economist, for example reports:
Many believe the virus was to blame”.
As if what “many believe” really means anything.
However it happened – whether virus or heart attack or, ahem, “suicide” – the long and short of it as that Magufuli is gone. Just as we predicted only a few days ago.
So what now for the East African nation? Well presumably Magufuli’s successor – be it the Vice-President, or a hastily elected new leader (perhaps the head of the opposition, given so many column inches in recent weeks) – will take the reins of the country.
Will they continue their predecessor’s “Covid denying” policies? I would be astounded.
If what happened in Burundi last summer is any guide, the Tanzanian Covid approach will be totally reversed within a day or two of the President dying.
As the Council on Foreign Relations reported, only last week:
a bold figure within the ruling party could capitalize on the current episode to begin to reverse course.”
Expect that “Bold Figure” to rise to prominence very soon, and receive the kind of glowing write-ups in the Western press, that only their hand-picked men ever get.
Bloomberg is already reporting that:
Tanzania’s Next Leader to Face Predecessor’s Covid Denialism
New leader must decide whether to change course on Covid-19
The Covid reversals have actually already begun, they were being put in place even before the President was reported dead, with WHO spokespeople praising Tanzania’s “new position” on Covid as early as March 12th.