At least four people have been arrested by Police in Tanzania for allegedly spreading rumours on social media that President John Magufuli is ill.
The four arrests were made in different parts of the country as the government attempts to stop reports over the whereabouts of the President.
President Magufuli, 61, has not been seen in public for weeks now, the last been February this year.
He is reported to be seriously ill after Covid-19 infection, with other reports even claiming he had died.
But Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa rejected those reports saying “Tanzanians should be at peace. Your president is around, healthy, working hard. To spread rumours that he is sick is just an outcome of hate.”
The prime minister added that the president has been busy at work indoors reviewing files.
“I have decided to say this to give hope to Tanzanians that our president is around,” he said. “If he were sick, would I talk to him on the phone? He sent his greetings to you.”
Tanzania’s ambassador in Namibia, Modestus Kipilimba has also given an official reaction saying the President is “OK, he’s going on with his job.”
Kipilimba made the comment in an interview with Namibia’s state broadcaster NBC but there has been no evidence of Magufuli in public.
Tanzania’s information minister and justice minister have threatened those spreading rumours with jail time but could not respond to concerns about the whereabouts of the president.
— SoftPower News (@SoftPowerNews) March 14, 2021
The opposition leader, Tunda Lissa who has been vocal on the health of the president, demanding details said he doesn’t “wish anyone dead”.
He has however question the failure of the government to be transparent about the whereabouts of the President and his health condition.
Lissa said on Monday that “VP Samia suggested today that the Dictator is sick somewhere. My own sources in TISS say he’s on life support with COVID and paralyzed on one side and from the waist down after a stroke. Tell the people the truth! Release Peter Silayo na Melchiory Shayo detained in Kilimanjaro!”
VP Samia suggested today that the Dictator is sick somewhere. My own sources in TISS say he’s on life support with COVID and paralyzed on one side and from the waist down after a stroke. Tell the people the truth! Release Peter Silayo na Melchiory Shayo detained in Kilimanjaro!
— Tundu Antiphas Lissu (@TunduALissu) March 15, 2021
Magufuli had refused to accept the fact that Covid-19 is real and deadly, in order to protect his citizens.
He didn’t encourage the adherence to safety protocols, urging people to pray and consider the virus devilish.