“From Denialism to Vaccine Acceptance: Contested Truths over COVID-19 Pandemic Responses in Tanzania” A paper presented by Simon Mutebi (PhD) in an International Conference at the University of Dar es Salaam. Simon Mutebi (PhD) is an ARUA-Carnegie ECR Fellowship fellow at ARUA CoE Identities.
During the six months fellowship, Dr. Mutebi is expected to focus on writing and publishing papers among other tasks and roles. The paper presented on 10th November, 2022 in the 7th Voice of Social Sciences International Conference at the University of Dar es Salaam is one of those he has been working on since the commencement of fellowship in July 2022. Below are the details of the paper.
Topic - From Denialism to Vaccine Acceptance: Contested Truths over COVID-19 Pandemic Responses in Tanzania.
Are African political leaders’ responses to COVID-19 contested? And how would these contestations over the pandemic be framed in the light of another political regime? The recent literature on politics and pandemics has explored enormous diversity among African political leaders’ responses to COVID-19 pandemic, within as well as between nations. In this paper, I focus on Tanzania, as a single case study and show how two different political regimes within the country have contested truths over COVID-19. For example, while the Tanzanian government under the late President John Pombe Magufuli put much emphasis on Afrocentric forms of medical knowledge and spiritual prowess, these have received less attention in the current government under President Samia Suluhu Hassan, which has allowed the importation of COVID-19 vaccines and campaigns for vaccination. Drawing on documental analysis and few in-depth interviews in Dar es Salaam, I examine this radical departure from her predecessor’s orientation. I argue that although the Magufuli’s approach to the pandemic was a positive development (e.g, in terms of giving people moral support and articulating Afro-optimistic discourse), it is quite often contested for its ineffectiveness and ineffectualness in controlling the spread of Coronavirus in the light of President Samia Suluhu Hassan. My findings highlight the need to consider how truth and/or knowledge are constructed and contested in planning for future pandemics.
Key words: Denialism, COVID-19 Vaccine, Magufuli, Samia, Tanzanian government.