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.
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-19 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-19 as early as March 12th.
The “new position” will likely be enforced with industrial blackmail. Bloomberg reports:
“Magufuli spearheaded a major infrastructure investment drive, and pending decisions on whether to proceed with several mega-projects will now fall to his successor.”
It’s not hard to see the obvious financial threat here.
“Change your COVID-19 position, or foreign investors will pull out of your infrastructure projects”.
Plus, there are the former President’s plans to part-nationalise the mining industry, which his successor may well be forced to halt, for fear of “alienating international investors”:
“The nation’s new leader will also need to decide whether to run the risk of alienating international investors and press ahead with controversial mining reforms that Magufuli said were needed to ensure the nation derives greater benefit from its natural resources.”
It seems fairly obvious there’s been a major powerplay in Tanzania, a soft coup using business in place of bullets. But what do you think?
- What will President Magufuli’s successor do now?
- Will the WHO be invited back into the country?
- Will they start mass testing?
- Will Tanzania’s “hidden pandemic” suddenly come to light?
- Did Magufuli really die of natural causes?
- For those of you who answered yes to question 5, would you like to buy a bridge?