(Reuters) - Social media users suggested four African leaders who died in recent months were killed for opposing COVID-19 vaccinations for their citizens. Although some of them were coronavirus sceptics, one died of cancer, two are suspected of having died of COVID-19 and the fourth death was directly attributed to the respiratory disease.
Some of the posts can be seen here:
The posts show the faces of four leaders who died in office - John Magufuli, the late president of Tanzania; Hamed Bakayoko, who was Ivory Coast’s prime minister; Ambrose Dlamini, who was prime minister of eSwatini; and Pierre Nkurunziza, who was Burundi’s president - together with the message “Were these African leaders assassinated? For opposing the COVID-19 vaccine?”
COVID SCEPTIC MAGUFULI DIED OF A HEART CONDITION
Magufuli’s death, at the age of 61, was announced on March 17, 2021 by Samia Suluhu Hassan, who was vice president at the time and is now president of Tanzania.
Today as we lay to rest our beloved President Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli; on behalf of the People of the United Republic of Tanzania and on my own behalf i would like to thank fellow Compatriots; National Leaders, Religious Leaders, Political Leaders, Diplomatic Community, pic.twitter.com/ZQjiZCd03W— Samia Suluhu (@SuluhuSamia) March 26, 2021
The death was surrounded by rumors that COVID-19 could have been the cause. Britain’s BBC published an article with the headline "John Magufuli: The cautionary tale of the president who denied coronavirus" .
Magufuli, who died of a heart condition at a hospital in Dar es Salaam, had not been seen in public for two weeks before his death. Some opposition politicians had suggested he contracted COVID-19. He had been “one of Africa’s most prominent coronavirus sceptics, and called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the virus,” the BBC reported.
There is no evidence that he was murdered.
BAKAYOKO DIED OF CANCER AND HAD SOUGHT VACCINES FOR THE IVORY COAST
Bakayoko s death occurred a day earlier, according to a tweet from President Alassane Ouattara.
Notre pays est en deuil.— Alassane Ouattara (@AOuattara_PRCI) March 10, 2021
J’ai l’immense douleur de vous annoncer le décès du Premier Ministre, Hamed Bakayoko, Chef du Gouvernement, Ministre de La Défense, ce mercredi 10 mars 2021, en Allemagne, des suites d’un cancer. pic.twitter.com/IfImVNdlho
The prime minister, who had come to power in July 2020 after the death of his predecessor, Amadou Gon Coulibaly, never denied the existence of the coronavirus pandemic. He had contracted COVID-19 twice, according to an article published by The Africa Report .
Ivory Coast was among the first countries to receive vaccines against the disease through the COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme backed by the World Health Organization (WHO). UNICEF reported on Feb 25 that the African nation was going to receive 504,000 doses the following day.
There is no evidence that Bakayoko may have been killed.
DLAMINI FOUGHT THE PANDEMIC AND DIED AFTER TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
Reuters reported on Dec 13, 2020 that Dlamini had died at the age of 52 after testing positive for COVID-19 two weeks earlier. Dlamini, appointed in November 2018, had been transferred on Dec. 1 to a hospital in South Africa to be treated for the disease.
In a statement released on July 8 last year on the government’s website, Dlamini said his country had declared a national emergency on March 17 because of the pandemic and subsequently passed regulations to fight against it. In eSwatini, a partial lockdown was declared to restrict the movement of people and ensure maximum compliance with health protocols based on recommendations made by the WHO and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
On Jan 4, just under a month after Dlamini s death, authorities expressed their intention to vaccinate the entire population against COVID-19, using initiatives such as COVAX.
There is no evidence that Dlamini was assassinated.
A HEART ATTACK CAUSED NKURUNZIZA’S DEATH
"Urgent: The Government of the Republic of Burundi announces with great sadness the unexpected death of His Excellency Pierre Nkurunziza, President of the Republic of Burundi, at the Cinquantenaire Hospital in Karusi after a heart attack on June 8, 2020," a government account said on Twitter on June 9, 2020.
URGENT: Le Gouvernement de la République du Burundi annonce avec une très grande tristesse le décès inopiné de Son Excellence Pierre Nkurunziza, Président de la République du Burundi, survenu à l’Hôpital du Cinquantenaire de Karusi suite à un arrêt cardiaque ce 8 juin 2020. pic.twitter.com/PP46kKzAM5— Bureau du Premier Ministre (@BurundiGov) June 9, 2020
Nkurunziza’s unexpected death at the age of 55, after just under 15 years in power, led to rumors that it may have been caused by a coronavirus infection, according to The Guardian.
Nkurunziza, a former soccer player, had not imposed restrictions in the country, and allowed big sports events and political demonstrations to continue. According to The Guardian, Burundi authorities were accused of deliberately downplaying the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. Speculation about the cause of his death was fueled by unconfirmed reports that his wife had flown to Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, 10 days earlier, after being infected with COVID-19.
There is no evidence that Nkurunziza was killed.
Hence, there is no evidence that leaders of Tanzania, Ivory Coast, eSwatini and Burundi were killed for refusing to vaccinate their countries against COVID-19.