Tanzania’s opposition party ACT Wazalendo is now mounting pressure on authorities in Tanzania to come clean on who is in charge of running the country as President John Pombe Magufuli’s absence from the limelight continues to draw mixed reactions.
Magufuli has not been seen in public since February 27 when he swore in Dr Bashiru Ali at the Dar es Salaam State House, replacing John Kijazi, who died of a heart attack.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, ACT Wazelendo party leader Zitto Kabwe said that the opposition had confirmed beyond doubt that Magufuli is ill amid reports that the Head of State was recently flown to Kenya and later India for Covid-19 treatment and cardiac arrest.
Kabwe, however, said the party is saddened by the government’s handling of the matter of the health of the country’s chief executive following recent conflicting remarks by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa and Vice President Samia Suluhu.
Last week in Njombe District, Majaliwa told Muslim faithful at a prayer meeting that he had spoken to President Magufuli and asked the public to ignore any insinuations about his wellbeing.
On Monday, Ms Suluhu who was touring Tanga Region hinted Magufuli could be unwell.
“Both the assertions by the VP and the PM have only helped to intensify speculations about Magufuli’s health status and his whereabouts,” said Kabwe.
“ACT- Wazalendo calls upon the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania to fully explain the mystery surrounding the absence of President John Pombe Magufuli who has uncharacteristically not been seen in public for over two weeks now.
“…the President’s absence has raised palpable public anxiety and tension which threatens the welfare of the country.”
The party now demands that relevant authorities immediately tell Tanzanians the real situation of Magufuli’s condition and assure the republic about the continuity of the roles of his office as stipulated in the Constitution.
“Section 37 (2) of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania of 1977, gives mandate to the Cabinet to submit a resolution to the Chief Justice to form a medical inquiry to certify that the President is unable to discharge the functions of his office by reason of physical or mental infirmity,” said Kabwe.
“Such a medical certificate would be submitted to the Speaker of Parliament upon which the House declares the office vacant in 7 days if the President does not recover.”
He added that the Constitution also allows the Vice President to take over roles of the President if the holder of the office is absent or unable to carry out his duties.
“The Chief Secretary must officially declare that the Vice President is Acting President as per the government’s protocols, ” he said.
The party further demands the unconditional release of all citizens who have been arrested on accusations of circulating rumours about the President’s health.
Kabwe also demands that Heads of Parastatals especially the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) assure the public that no one is taking advantage of the current situation to loot State coffers.
“We call upon members of the Civil Society such as the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) to speak out on the importance of safeguarding the Constitutional order to safeguard Tanzania’s governance, ” he added.