Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa was forced to calm Tanzanians down today, Friday, March 12, 2021, as reports about President John Magufuli being ill have been circulating on both social and mainstream media for a couple of days now, leading to both tension and rumor-mongering as people struggle to make sense of the reports.
Unconfirmed reports about the Head of State’s ailment have been circulating on social media with some prominent news organizations picking up the reports, each one selling its own theory of what’s happening, but none without a government’s source confirming or denying the reports that have continued to spread like wildfire.
But in his Friday’s address in Njombe, the premier assured Tanzanians that the health of President Magufuli was sound and that he was continuing fulfilling his nation-building duties. Addressing Tanzanians, the premier said: “Please be at peace, your president is well and sound, he’s working very hard and we, his assistants, are here visiting some of the projects that the government is funding.”
Calls from opposition
Mr Majaliwa’s assurance of President Magufuli’s health came a few hours after CHADEMA Secretary-General John Mnyika asked the government to provide answers on the Head of State’s health and whereabouts, saying that Tanzanians needed to know what’s happening with their leader.
“Where’s the president, and how’s he doing?” asked Mr Mnyika during a press conference which took place at CHADEMA’s headquarters in Dar es Salaam. “Maybe I should be clear to the Tanzanian public that to the extent that senior party leaders, guided by our national chairperson Freeman Mbowe, decide to convene a meeting and reflect on this matter, and reach a consensus of demanding the government to tell the nation where is President Magufuli and how he’s doing, it means that we have seen that this matter is serious and that the information circulating are so serious that the government has to provide answers.”
But Mr Majaliwa pointed out in his Friday’s address that people should not expect to see President Magufuli to be loitering in the streets of Dar es Salaam. He said: “How does it help anyone by [President Magufuli] going out? Why should he come out and where should he go? Have you ever seen President Magufuli roaming the streets of Karikaoo [a ward in Ilala District, Dar es Salaam region]?”
As if he thought that people would not believe him, Mr Majaliwa said that he had spoken to Mr Magufuli on phone today in the morning where he, Majaliwa, updated the president on his today’s timetable. “I wanted to speak this out as a way of comforting Tanzanians,” Majaliwa pointed out. “President Magufuli is alive and sound. That I spoke to him this morning.”
According to Mr Majaliwa, rumors on President Magufuli’s health have been propagated by Tanzanians living abroad, saying that some Tanzanians do not wish their country well. “I’d like to express my deepest disappointments to some Tanzanians who hate our progress,” the Ruangwa MP (CCM) said in a speech he delivered after the Friday prayer in Njombe, southern highlands of Tanzania. “They are so hateful that they wish Tanzania would slip into the abyss. They’re not here, they are abroad, and wish to pit Tanzanians against each other.”
Nothing but hate motivated the current rumors on President Magufuli’s health, added Mr Majaliwa. “It is like me falsely claiming that you are sick, and I’m happy about it, and I force others to believe these claims. Will I be wishing you well?”
Majaliwa’s statement was followed by one from Mbeya Regional Commissioner Albert Chalamila who also claimed that he had spoken with President Magufuli on Friday morning. Tanzanian ambassador to Tanzania to Namibia Dr Modestus Kipilimba also told the country’s state broadcaster the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) that President Magufuli was okay.
“We must first love our country,” Mr Majaliwa urged Tanzanians. “Secondly, we must love the leaders we have elected to govern us. Thirdly, we also need to speak the language of love. We have to insist on solidarity. We have to rid ourselves of hate and any hateful person is not appropriate to be in our communities.”