Tanzania’s justice minister Mwigulu Nchemba has dismissed claims linking President John Magufuli’s absence from public to his health condition.
According to BBC, Nchemba said Mr Magufuli was not a TV presenter or leader of a jogging club and therefore he didn’t need to “post selfies of himself every day.”
This follows reports that Magufuli is hospitalized in neighboring Kenya.
Early this week, Kenyan media reported that an East African leader was hospitalized in Nairobi due to COVID-19 infection. The report also suggested that the leader could be Tanzania Magufuli since he had not been seen in public for at least two week.
Other reports on Friday showed that Magufuli’s health condition had worsened prompting an admission to another hospital in India.
On Friday, a media outlet in Southern Africa reported that Tanzania’s High Commissioner to Namibia, Dr Modestus Kipilimba had also said President John Pombe Magufuli is in good health and is in Tanzania.
Exiled Tanzanian opposition leader, Tundu Lissu, also said his sources had confirmed that the president was being treated in hospital for coronavirus in Kenya.
If verified and found to be true, it will be a big blow to the leadership of the East African nation which defied almost all guidelines in the fight of coronavirus ever since it broke out at the beginning of last year.
Mr Magufuli has also faced criticism for his handling of Covid-19, with his government refusing to buy vaccines.
Its 61-year-old president instead called for prayers and herbal-infused steam therapy to counter the raging wave of coronavirus.
Earlier this month, at a funeral for a top presidential aide, Mr Magufuli said Tanzania had defeated Covid-19 last year and would win again this year.
The Tanzanian government remains tightlipped on the matter and so is the local media which operates under strict conditions at times under self-censorship to avoid clampdown from government.
Several others which we consulted before this publication had already reported news about the health condition of Kenya’s opposition politician Raila Odinga, but nothing about Magufuli. Odinga is also in Hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.
Several other Tanzanian politicians, on condition of anonymity for fear of a backlash, have confessed that the epidemic is real in Tanzania. Others claim that to have spoken to people close to the president who said he was seriously ill and in hospital.
BBC however says they couldn’t independently verify their reports.