By Enyichukwu Enemanna
Concerns have been raised by some Tanzanians on the whereabouts of the country’s Vice-President, Philip Mpango, who has not been seen in public for over a month.
He was to speak at a science conference on Wednesday in Arusha but he was represented by a minister of the cabinet.
His non appearance in the public space has sparked argument on his state of health.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa has however defended the prolonged absence of the Vice President from the public glare, saying he is outside the country for an official assignment.
This is not the first time there have been rumours about the state of the vice-president’s health.
Before becoming vice-president, Mr Mpango, 66, had served as finance minister under former President John Magufuli, who died in office in March 2021.
A month earlier, during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Mpango appeared at a news conference in the capital, Dodoma, to deny a rumour that he was dead.
He coughed several times as he paid tribute to senior government officials who had passed away.
Mr Mpango was last seen in public on 31 October while representing President Samia Suluhu Hassan during a virtual meeting of leaders from the Southern African Development Community.
On Monday, the president had to cut her trip short in Dubai to deal with deadly landslides in the northern region.
Under the country’s constitution, if the president dies, resigns, is permanently incapacitated or is disqualified, the vice-president takes up the presidency for the rest of the term.
Some social media users have been expressing concerns about the uncharacteristic silence of Mr Mpango, who is yet to comment about the tragedy in Hanang region.
Others say they are worried about Mr Mpango’s health.
Prime Minister Majaliwa, however, said citizens should not be speculating about the vice-president’s whereabouts.
“Ignore the crazy things on social media, Dr Philip Mpango is out of the country on official duties,” Mr Majaliwa said on Saturday.