The mystery of Tanzania’s missing president
DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA–
Where is Tanzania’s President John Magufuli?
Tuesday marks 17 days given that the 61-year-old has actually been seen in public, and in spite of a clamour of rumours of ill-health, the Tanzanian authorities have yet to offer clear responses regarding his location.
The simple concern is now causing arrests, as the federal government looks for to consist of the rumours.
And experts state the silence is informing.
“I think whatever happens … it is clearly true the regime is trying to buy time,” stated Nic Cheeseman, teacher of democracy at the University of Birmingham.
“And it only really makes sense that the regime is trying to buy time if the president is very ill, incapacitated, or dead.”
Magufuli last appeared in public on February 27, and the impassioned Catholic has actually missed out on 3 Sunday services, where he would typically attend to the parish.
Just days previously, Finance Minister Philip Mpango appeared coughing and gasping at an interview outside a healthcare facility, to eliminate rumours he had actually passed away of Covid -19.
WARDED OFF BY PRAYER
Magufuli’s lack comes amidst a string of prominent deaths and health problems credited to “respiratory problems” or “pneumonia”.
Magufuli had for months firmly insisted the infection no longer existed in Tanzania, and had actually been warded off by prayer. He declined to use a face-mask or take lockdown procedures.
The nation stopped launching case information in April 2020.
But a week prior to he was last seen, Magufuli yielded the infection was still flowing, after the vice-president of semi-autonomous Zanzibar was exposed to have actually passed away of Covid -19.
Last Tuesday, primary opposition leader Tundu Lissu, banished in Belgium, and others started questioning Magufuli’s lack, mentioning sources that he was seriously ill from Covid -19, worsened by underlying health conditions.
‘ INFORM THE REALITY!’
On Monday, Lissu stated on Twitter that his intelligence sources “say he’s on life support with COVID and paralysed on one side and from the waist down after a stroke. Tell the people the truth!”
Among the theories in blood circulation is that Magufuli is badly ill in a healthcare facility in Kenya or India, while another recommends he never ever left Tanzania at all.
Kenyan media have actually reported the existence of “an African leader” in a Nairobi health center in clear referral to Magufuli, although federal government authorities reject he exists.
India’s foreign ministry did not react to ask for remark.
Cheeseman stated it was “remarkable” that the federal government has actually kept Magufuli’s location under covers “in the modern world of the internet and citizen reporting and social media”.
“But Tanzania isn’t living in that modern world. The… level of media censorship means Tanzania is not in that context.”
The Tanzanian federal government has actually stated extremely bit, aside from to threaten those spreading out rumours with prison time.
‘ TIME TO REMAIN UNITED’
On Friday, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa stated Magufuli was “strong and working as usual”.
On Monday, vice-president Samia Suluhu Hassan dropped a possible tip the president is ill, without calling him.
“Our country is now full of rumours from outside but that should be ignored… It’s quite normal for a person to contract flu, fever or any other disease,” she stated.
“If there’s need for us to remain united, the time is now.”
Zitto Kabwe, the leader of opposition celebration ACT-Wazalendo, stated the federal government was simply offering space for panic.
“We know for sure that the president is ill but we are surprised by the deepening silence about the matter,” he stated in a declaration Tuesday.
“We need to know who is currently heading the government through which constitutional powers.”
‘ UNNECESSARY SECRECY’
Meanwhile Tanzanians state they wish to see their leader face to face.
“I believe something is happening but the authorities are hiding,” stated Muhsin, a citizen of the monetary capital Dar es Salaam.
“I will be comfortable if I see the president himself.”
Clothes supplier Deborah stated there was “unnecessary secrecy”.
“If our beloved president is really ill, they should tell us the truth so that we put him in our prayers,” she stated.
Magufuli pertained to power in 2015 as a no-nonsense, corruption-busting president nicknamed the “Bulldozer”, and was re-elected in a contested survey in 2015.
However he has actually been implicated by rights groups and of suppressing democracy, and punishing the media.
As an outcome, the nation’s reporters are too scared to go into the story.
“It’s all about survival and telling the truth… you need to play it safe to continue operating or rush to this delicate story and risk your licence and most importantly your life,” an editor of a privately-owned Swahili paper stated on condition of privacy.
The federal government has actually likewise begun punishing individuals whom it implicates of spreading out the “rumours” that Magufuli was ill through social networks, threatening to charge them with cybercrime offenses.
So far cops have actually revealed the arrest of someone in Dar es Salaam and 2 in the northern Kilimanjaro area for spreading out rumours.
“Rather than give credible evidence that he’s alive and well, they’re arresting innocent people who want to know the truth,” stated Lissu