Philip Mpango dismissed reports he was ill, saying he was on official duties abroad

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

By Wycliffe Muia / BBC News |

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.

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

Tanzanians wonder where vice-president has gone

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”.

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