Philip Mpango: Tanzania orders social media crackdown over VP death rumours

, Tanzanian authorities are investigating social media users accused of spreading false information about Vice-President Philip Mpango’s health.

Mr Mpango resurfaced on Sunday after being absent from public view for over a month, sparking relief and ending widespread rumours he had died.

Information Minister Nape Nnauye has ordered investigations into those who spread the speculation.

Mr Mpango says he was hurt by the false rumours circulating on social media.

The vice-president 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.

There have been mixed reactions regarding the vice-president’s return and the rumours that surrounded his absence. Some argue the matter was mishandled by the government’s failure to provide clear information about the his whereabouts.

His absence had sparked widespread concern, with Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa previously warning citizens against the speculation.

But the vice-president appeared unannounced at a Sunday service in the capital, Dodoma, saying he was healthy and had not lost any weight.

“There have been photos circulating alongside a candle, and claims that I have passed away. It’s too early – I haven’t completed the job God sent me to do,” Mr Mpango said.

“I will return to my maker only when my time comes. I’m grateful for your prayers.”

He clarified that he had been abroad on “special duties”, without giving more details.

While reacting to Mr Mpango’s call for social media users to be more responsible, the information minister ordered the relevant state agencies to take action against those who spread speculation about the VP’s whereabouts.

“Any freedom that infringes on the freedom of another person amounts to disobedience of the law, we cannot have a society that views that as normal,” Mr Nnauye posted on X (formerly Twitter).

He added that his directive was not a threat but a move to “protect people’s freedom”.

He did not say which laws had potentially been broken.

In 2018, Tanzania enacted tough laws against the spread of “fake news”, which critics see as a way of curbing freedom of expression.

This is not the first time there have been rumours about the state of Mr Mpango’s health.

The vice-president, who later on Sunday met President Samia at Chamwino State House, said his sister fainted in 2021 after receiving false reports about his death.

President Samia told the VP to acknowledge that he was a public figure who should be ready for such speculation.



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