Dar es Salaam, Tanzania | THE INDEPENDENT | Speculation continued about the whereabouts and health of Tanzania’s President John Pombe Magufuli ‘The Bulldozer’ despite Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa reassuring the country today that he is simply busy, but well.
Magufuli, 61, Africa’s most prominent coronavirus skeptic has not been seen in public since February 27, leading to speculation that he’s ill and admitted in Nairobi hospital, where he is being treated after contracting COVID-19.
Exiled Tanzanian opposition leader Tundu Lissu has gone to allege that Magufuli in in coma, and has since been flow to India.
Prime Minister Majaliwa in a speech after Friday prayers dismissed Lissu reports. “Tanzanians should be at peace. Your president is around, thanks for voting strongly for him recently. He is healthy, working hard, planning for the country. To spread rumors that he is sick is just an outcome of hate.”
Majaliwa said Magufuli has a schedule, and has let his many assistants, him inclusive to do their work uninterrupted. He said to call him to come out in public assumes he does not know what he doing.
Tanzania’s ambassador in Namibia, Modestus Kipilimba earlier told told Namibia’s state broadcaster NBC that, “He is ok, going on with his job.”
With neither the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation or NBC showing new videos of Magufuli, speculation continued on social media.
Should Magufuli be gravely ill as is reported, the constitution states clearly that the Vice President takes charged. That, in this case would be 61-year-old Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan. ( CLICK TO READ SAMIA BIOGRAPHY)
The reports that Magufuli has been flown abroad for treatment are surprising, because left on his own, he rarely travels outside the country’s borders. What that means is that his Vice President Samia Suluhu has been the most noticeable figure, representing Tanzania, at all international meetings in the past five years.
Magufuli has made only eight visits abroad since he was elected Tanzania president in 2015. He rarely travels far, reportedly for health reasons, and has only visited Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Zimbabwe and Uganda (twice) since he became president.
That means, Samia Suluhu Hassan is the face that everyone is familiar with, representing Tanzania at all the UN, African Union, SADC and East African Community meetings held outside their country.
In fact, two weeks back at the virtual East African Heads of State Summit, Magufuli appeared at the introduction only and left Samia to participate in the rest of the discussion. It turns out that was the last time he was seen in public.
Just before that, he had launched what is said to be regions’ biggest bus hub, and a major road intersection in Dar, completed in a record 30 months that is aimed at ending massive traffic jams.