The sudden death of Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli has thrown the East African nation into a period of political uncertainty. Vice-president, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has been sworn in as his successor, making her Tanzania’s first woman president. The transition is all the more challenging given the major rupture – both political and economic – caused by Magufuli’s presidency. Magufuli, who won a second term in October 2020, dramatically centralised power and pursued an interventionist economic policy agenda. One immediate concern is what steps Hassan will take on the pandemic, and whether she will change direction. Whatever she does, the health emergency and associated economic crisis will likely define her presidency. It could indeed define the economic trajectory of the African region in years to come. Both Kikwete and Magufuli ruled through an economic boom period. Commodity prices were high and access to international finance was fairly easy. This gave them latitude to choose between various development approaches.
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