Tanzania: New president reverses direction under Magufuli

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Tanzania’s new president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, is already taking the country in a different direction from the previous administration under the rule of John Magufuli.

President Hassan was sworn in last month, days after the death of John Magufuli due to a heart condition that many speculate was caused by Covid-19. While opposition groups speculate that little will change with Hassan leading the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party, Tanzania’s first woman president is already taking the country in a different direction.

President Hassan reverses Magufuli moves

John Magufuli was one of Africa’s most prominent Covid deniers, listing all restrictions last May and urging people in the country to shun mask-wearing and vaccines. Authorities stopped publishing Covid-19 data in May last year, too, leaving the virus to its own devices. Towards the end of 2020, senior politicians were falling ill with respiratory problems and several key figures would die.

Speculation mounted that Tanzania was in the midst of an uncontrolled and untraced epidemic and Magufuli disappeared from public sight in February. He would never be seen alive again in a public setting and his death was announced on March 17. The official word is that he died from a heart condition but opposition figures insist he died after contracting Covid-19.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Tuesday announced the formation of a technical committee to advise her about the scale of infections in the country and how to respond. She said the pandemic is “not something we should be quiet about or refuse flatly or accept without doing a scientific examination” in a dramatic shift from the approach taken by her predecessor.

Hassan also ordered the reopening of several media outlets that were closed or repressed under the rule of Magufuli in another reversal of direction.

Featured image: By Gospel Kitaa – Kuagwa kwa Miili Lucky Vincent-183, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=101744564

About Aaron Brooks

Aaron Brooks is a UK journalist who wants to cut out the international agendas in news. Spending his early years in both England and Northern Ireland he saw the difference between reality and media coverage at an early age. After graduating from the University of Chester with a BA in journalism, his travels revealed just how large the gap between news and the real world can be. As Editor-in-Chief at East Africa Monitor, it’s his job to provide a balanced view of what’s going on in the region for English-speaking audiences.