Tanzania: Narrating the Eradication of Covid-19

Daniel Paget

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Like some populists, Magufuli contested the science of pandemic response. Unlike them, he created a fiction that Tanzania had eradicated Covid-19 by June 2020. This sets Magufuli’s pandemic politics apart. Thereafter, his government dismantled its prior good-practice Covid19 response. As Covid-19 was gone, they reasoned, preventative measures were no longer necessary. They only began to retreat from this position in February 2021, weeks before Magufuli’s death, possibly from Covid-19. The imposition of this fiction as official policy was made possible by Tanzania’s increasingly authoritarian state. However, the reasons that motivated Magufuli and his party to advance it stem from their ideological project to pursue industrial development and create “New Tanzania.” They constructed lockdown and virus panic as inimical to that transformation. This project was a new direction for the ruling party. They intended to win the 2020 election by a landslide and make the campaign a celebration of their achievements which vindicated their controversial course. The ongoing pandemic provided a discursive context incompatible with these goals, which their fiction rewrote. Therefore, the imperative status given to economic transformation in their ideological project shaped their response to the pandemic. So did the juncture of the pandemic in the electoral cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPopulists and the Pandemic
Subtitle of host publicationHow Populists Around the World Responded to Covid-19
EditorsNils Ringe, Lucio Renno
Place of PublicationLondon
ISBN (Print)9781032051956
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2022

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Extremism and Democracy


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