Tanzania police have arrested four people for spreading rumors on social media that President John Magufuli is sick and missing due to Covid-19.
Tanzania president Magufuli is sick due to COVID-19
President John Magufuli has been away from the public appearance (missing) since late February, amid rumors he has contracted COVID-19. The country’s vice president said at the launch of a government project in Tanga:
“I want to confirm to you Tanzania is safe. It’s normal for a human being to undergo checkups like flu and fever and could suffer other illnesses. I want to plead with Tanzanians, if there was a time to hold together is now. This is the time to build unity. It’s not a time to listen to information coming from outside.”
However, opposition politicians have insisted he’s critically sick due to Covid-19 and had been taken abroad for treatment. Due to the cascading pressure from opposition leaders and people, Tanzanian authorities must have to disclose Magufuli’s health update.
The 61-year-old president has not been seen in public since the inauguration ceremony of his chief of staff on February 27. A Kenyan media had said last week that Magufuli was admitted at Nairobi hospital.
The President is fit and working hard
But Prime Minister Hassan Majaliwa on Friday dismissed speculations that Magufuli is sick and contracted Covid-19. He said the president is “fit and working hard as usual” and has a lot to do.
Ansbert Ngurumo, a Tanzanian journalist in exile said Tanzanian political leaders often keep the health status of government officials secret.
“From the look of things, it’s like if you don’t provoke them, if we don’t keep asking questions, they will never tell us in time. Even the most recent event from the statehouse when Ambassador John Kijazi, Magufuli’s top aide in the statehouse, we never knew he was sick until they told us he is dead. So, they are not in a position to tell us what is happening now. They are just waiting to tell us the eventuality if he is dead or if he finally recovers from wherever he was,” said Ngurumo.
Ever since the global pandemic started a year ago, Magufuli never disclosed the virus’s presence in Tanzania. He has been denounced for telling Tanzanians that the virus can be defeated with steam inhalation and prayer.