According to the regional Police Commissioner for Kinondoni Ramadhani Kingai at least one man was arrested for allegedly spreading false reports that Magufuli was seriously ill in the Kinondoni area of Dar es Salaam,
“There are a lot more who have been spreading false statements. We will arrest them all,” Kingai said at a press conference Saturday.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Hassan Majaliwa has dismissed the rumors that Magufuli is unwell or battling COVID-19 adding that Magufuli, who has not been seen in public for 15 days, had asked him to convey his greetings to residents in the country’s southern town of Njombe.
“The president has a lot to do, and as the president had delegated some duties to his aides,” Majaliwa noted.
The constitutional affairs minister said Tanzanians who are posting on social media that the president is incapacitated are violating the country’s cybercrime law which has prompted human rights groups to say the cybercrime law is one of several that Magufuli’s government uses to suppress freedom of expression.
“Ahead of the state is not ahead of a jogging club who should always be around taking selfies, those who are breaking the law, think about what the penal code says on cybercrime. The government is monitoring,” Constitutional Affairs Minister, Mwigulu Nchemba posted on his social media accounts.
Magufuli is one of Africa’s most prominent COVID-19 skeptics. Last year he said the disease had been eradicated from Tanzania by three days of national prayer further casting doubt on tests to determine COVID-19 discouraged Tanzanians from wearing masks, keeping a distance from others, and the use of vaccines to combat the disease.
Magufuli’s absence is unusual as he is known for frequent public speeches and appearances on state television several times a week.
Opposition politicians raised questions about the president’s health after at least one official close to him died recently.
Magufuli was last seen in public on Feb. 27 at the swearing-in ceremony of his chief of staff. The event was at the State House government offices in Dar es Salaam, the East African country’s largest city.
Exiled opposition leader Tundu Lissu, who lost the October presidential election to Magufuli, claimed in a series of tweets last week that the president had been flown to India in critical condition after first being taken to neighboring Kenya for COVID-19 treatment.