Speculation regarding the health of Tanzania’s President John Magufuli continues to be rife in the region with current “unconfirmed” reports indicating that the fifth President of the East African nation is dead.
Last week Kenya’s media was awash with reports that Magufuli was flown to Nairobi for treatment but later transferred to India, reportedly due to lack of an ICU bed at the Nairobi Hospital, where ODM Leader Raila Odinga had been admitted over Covid-19.
According to the reports, which still remain unconfirmed in the absence of official communication from the relevant officials in Tanzania, Magufuli reportedly “tested positive for Covid-19 last week and suffered a cardiac arrest on Wednesday 3, March, and has been unresponsive on a ventilator for the past eight days”.
The sources further refute claims that Magufuli was flown to India and mentions that the president is being treated at the Intelligence Services Hospital in Dar es Salaam by doctors flown from India.
Opposition leader Tundu Antiphas Lissu, who had last week alleged that Magufuli was indeed critically ill, has today claimed that Magufuli suffered as a stroke and is on life support. He further urged the government to tell the people the truth.
“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 Lissu said in a tweet.
Lissu’s remarks follow annotates made by Tanzania Vice President Samia Hassan, who while addressing a crowd during an event in Tanga, cited that “it’s normal for a human being to routinely seek medical attention, over a cold here and there”.
Samia further urged Tanzanians to remain united, saying “if there is ever a time the unity is needed to build the country, it’s now”.
Tanzania Vice President Samia Hassan
“Katika wakati muhimu wa Watanzania kushikamana ni wakati huu, wakati wa kujenga umoja ni huu, sio wakati wa kusikiliza maneno ya kutoka nje yakatuparaganisha, tuchape kazi, tujenge umoja ili Tanzania iwe Taifa imara”-Mama Samia,Makamu wa Rais akiwa Tanga
The vice president’s remarks is the closest any senior government official has come in commenting about Magufuli’s health or lack of it. The continuous silence by the government spokesperson to issue a statement either confirming or denying the information making rounds in international media is only making the situation worse.
The Police in Tanzania has instead moved to silence members of the public commenting on Magufuli’s health. Two middle-aged men have today been arrested for posting on social media that Magufuli is ailing.
“Unapozungumzia Kiongozi wa Nchi (Rais Magufuli) kuwa anaumwa wakati wewe sio mtoa taarifa katika ngazi hiyo hilo ni kosa lazima tuchukue hatua, tumemkamata Kiliwa kwa kumzushia Rais ugonjwa na tutamfikisha Mahakamani ili sheria ifuate mkondo, ”Kaimu RPC Iringa. Translation (When you take up the mandate to announce that the president is ailing and you do not have an official mandate to do that, that is an offence that must be dealt with).
Last month the vice president of Zanzibar, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad died of Covid-19.