Tanzanian government urged to ‘explain mystery’ of Magufuli’s absence | Tanzania News

A main opposition party in Tanzania urged the government to “fully explain the mystery surrounding” the nearly three-week absence of President John Magufuli, saying the public has a right to know where he is and who is in charge. the country.

Skeptical of COVID-19, Magufuli last appeared in public on February 27 and in recent days speculation has been rife that the 61-year-old has the coronavirus – although the prime minister said the week last that the president was healthy and hard at work.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the ACT-Wazalendo party said Magufuli’s absence amid the roar of rumors “has raised palpable public anxiety and tension that threatens the well-being of the country.”

“We demand that the competent authorities immediately inform the Tanzanians of the real situation of the condition of Dr Magufuli and assure the republic on the continuity of the roles of his office as stipulated in the Constitution”, declared the statement signed by the leader of ACT-Wazalendo, Zitto Kabwe.

Kabwe said the Tanzanian constitution allows the cabinet to submit a resolution to the chief justice to organize a medical investigation to certify that the president is “unable to perform the duties of his office due to physical or mental infirmity” .

He also called for the “unconditional” release of several people arrested in the country since last week for allegedly spreading false information about the illness of political leaders, according to police, who did not mention the president’s name in referring to the arrests.

Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba said on Monday that anyone who “chatted, spread disinformation” was breaking the law and could be arrested.

Nicknamed the “Bulldozer”, Magufuli was elected in 2015 on the promise of fighting corruption and boosting infrastructure development. He won a second term in a controversial poll last year.

However, his government has been accused by rights groups of stifling democracy and cracking down on the media. As a result, journalists across the country are too afraid to delve into history.

“It’s all about survival and telling the truth … you have to play it safe to continue operating or rush into this delicate matter and risk your license and especially your life,” said a newspaper editor. Swahili private to the AFP news agency. on condition of anonymity.

Magufuli’s absence comes amid a string of high-profile deaths and illnesses attributed to “breathing problems” or “pneumonia.”

The president has long played down the severity of COVID-19, urging Tanzanians to pray, use steam inhalation, and adopt local remedies to protect themselves from respiratory illness. Tanzania stopped publishing infection figures in April 2020, weeks before Magufuli declared the country coronavirus-free in June through divine intervention.

He refused to wear a face mask or take lockdown action. But a week before his last sight, Magufuli admitted the virus was still circulating, after the semi-autonomous Zanzibar vice president was revealed to have died from COVID-19.

Addressing a congregation at a church service in Dar-es-Salaam, he mentionned the government had not banned the wearing of masks and encouraged those who wanted to do so.

On Tuesday, main opposition leader Tundu Lissu, exiled in Belgium, and others began to question Magufuli’s absence, citing sources that he was gravely ill with COVID-19, made worse by underlying health problems.

Lissu said on Twitter on Monday that his intelligence sources “say he’s on life support with COVID and paralyzed on one side and waist down after a stroke. Tell people the truth!

Among the theories in circulation, Magufuli is gravely ill in a hospital in Kenya or India, while another suggests that he has never left Tanzania at all. Kenyan media reported the presence of an “African leader” in a Nairobi hospital in clear reference to Magufuli, although government officials deny his presence.

India’s immigration service records show no one by the name of John Magufuli entering the country, and air ambulance flight records show no flight from East Africa since February 1 an Indian government source told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

The Tanzanian government has said very little other than threatening those who spread rumors of jail terms.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said on Friday that Magufuli was “strong and working as usual”. On Monday, Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan hinted that the President was ill, without naming him.

“Our country is now full of rumors coming from outside but this should be ignored… It is quite normal for a person to contract the flu, fever or any other illness,” she said. “If it is necessary for us to stand united, now is the time.”

In his statement, Kabwe said the government was only giving way to panic.

“We know for sure that the president is ill, but we are surprised by the increasingly deep silence on the issue,” he said. “We need to know who is currently running the government through what constitutional powers.”

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