Tanzania’s new president changes policy on COVID-19

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Tanzania's Vice President Samia Suluhu gives an address to heads of state and members of the public on September 14, 2019 during a farewell ceremony for the late former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe at the capital's Harare National Sports Stadium where the body of Mugabe lies in state for attending Presidents and former president among other dignitaries to pay teir respects. - Zimbabwe gave former leader Robert Mugabe a state funeral with African leaders paying tribute to a man they lauded as a liberation hero but whose 37-year rule was defined by repression and economic turmoil. (Photo by TONY KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images)
Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu gives an address to heads of state and members of the public on September 14, 2019 during a farewell ceremony for the late former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe (Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images)

Tanzania’s new president appears to be taking a new, scientific approach to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan said Tuesday she will form a technical committee to advise her about the scope of COVID-19 infections in the country and how to respond to the pandemic.

COVID-19 is “not something we should be quiet about or refuse flatly or accept without doing a scientific examination,” Hassan said in Swahili.

“We will do medical research which will tell us the scope of the problem and advise us about what the world is recommending as well as our own expertise,” she said.

Hassan, made the remarks that were broadcast live, after swearing key government officers in a hall in State House, the president’s official residence in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. More than 100 top government officials were present.

Opposition leader Tundu Lissu, in exile in Belgium, cautioned Tanzanians not to applaud Hassan’s announcements just yet.

“This will be no different from the Magufuli way of doing things. It’s Magufulism without Magufuli!” Lissu said in a Twitter post.

“It will not succeed. What is needed is strong systems of accountability of the government and its institutions. What is needed is more democracy, more justice, more accountability. What is needed is a New Constitution!”

In her address Tuesday to the country Hassan also ordered media houses that had been closed during her predecessor’s rule to be reopened. She also urged regional officials to encourage freedom of expression to allow members of the public to express their grievances without being intimidated.

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