Read between the lines: African leaders “opposed” to COVID protocols die.

June 30, 2023 in News by RBN Staff


Surely there’s nothing to see here…

Image from sample Facebook post linked in article:


Source: Reuters

Fact Check-These four leaders were [RBN edit: ‘DEFINITELY…’] not killed for opposing COVID-19 vaccination

Refiling to correct spelling of John Magufuli.

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 and 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?”


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, here . The death was surrounded by rumors that COVID-19 could have been the cause ( here , here ). Britain’s BBC published an article with the headline “John Magufuli: The cautionary tale of the president who denied coronavirus” ( here ).

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.


The Ivorian prime minister, who was 56, died of cancer at a hospital in the German city of Freiburg as reported on March 11, 2021 by Al Jazeera and the BBC ( here , here ).

Bakayoko’s death occurred a day earlier, according to a tweet from President Alassane Ouattara ( here ).

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 ( here ).

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 ( here ).

There is no evidence that Bakayoko may have been killed.


Reuters reported on Dec. 13, 2020 that Dlamini had died at the age of 52 after testing positive for COVID-19 two weeks earlier ( here ). 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 ( here ). 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 ( here ).

There is no evidence that Dlamini was assassinated.


“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 ( here ).

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 ( here ).

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.


False. There is no evidence that leaders of Tanzania, Ivory Coast, eSwatini and Burundi were killed for refusing to vaccinate their countries against COVID-19.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here here