Tanzania's Minister of Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, Innocent Bashungwa, has warned the country's media to desist from using "rumours" on the whereabouts of President John Magufuli.
Bashungwa told local journalists to ensure they only publish verified information from the right channels in the country and not accept any information that is not officially verified.
This comes amid speculation on the whereabouts of President Magufuli who has not been seen in public for weeks fuelling reports that he could be ill, amid concerns over the wide spead of Covid-19 in Tanzania which has mishandled measures to contain Covid-19.
Natoa wito kwa wanahabari na wananchi wetu kuendelea na utaratibu wa kupata taarifa kupitia vyanzo rasmi vya habari. Kutumia rumours/uvumi kama habari rasmi ni kukiuka sheria zinazosimamia sekta ya habari. Epukeni kusambaza habari ambazo mtawajibika nazo. - - Innocent L. Bashungwa (Bash) (@innobash) March 10, 2021
The minister further warned that using rumours is a violation of laws governing media industry in the neighbouring country, insisting on information being obtained from official sources only.
"Natoa wito kwa wanahabari na wananchi wetu kuendelea na utaratibu wa kupata taarifa kupitia vyanzo rasmi vya habari. Kutumia rumours/uvumi kama habari rasmi ni kukiuka sheria zinazosimamia sekta ya habari. Epukeni kusambaza habari ambazo mtawajibika nazo," he posted on Twitter.
The speculations on the president's health and whereabouts started when opposition chief Tundu Lissu, a presidential candidate in the 2020 general election, posted a query about Magufuli's whereabouts.
"The president's wellbeing is a matter of grave public concern. We were informed when Kikwete had prostate surgery. We were told when Mkapa went for hip replacement. We were not kept in the dark when Mwalimu fought leukemia. What is with Magufuli that we do not deserve to know?" he tweeted.