Fungi Kwaramba 2 March 2017
HARARE – Fresh from celebrating his 93rd birthday in Matobo with thousands
of Zanu PF supporters last weekend, President Robert Mugabe flew out to
Singapore in the wee hours of yesterday for what his office said was for a
“scheduled” health check-up.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba, while refreshingly forthcoming
about Mugabe’s Far East medical time-out yesterday – where previously all
matters related to the president’s health were ill-advisedly dealt with as
a major State secret – also told the Daily News that it was expected that
Zimbabwe’s long-ruling leader would be back in the country early next
“His Excellency left this morning for Singapore for a scheduled medical
check-up. We expect him back in the country early next week,” he said.
While Charamba did not reveal any further details about the nature and
extent of the medical examination which Mugabe would undergo, the
nonagenarian has in recent years been making regular visits to Singapore –
amid wild speculation about his state of health in the absence of official
information about his fitness levels.
Mugabe also visited his Far East doctors over the festive season for what
was also described at the time as routine check-ups. It was not
immediately clear whether this latest trip was a follow-up to that
December visit, or an appointment for different reasons.
The only leader Zimbabweans have known since the country gained its
independence from the British in April 1980, Mugabe is also the world’s
oldest leader. He appeared very tired and jaded during his birthday
celebrations last weekend.
While still very sharp mentally, especially for his age, Mugabe also
struggled with his speech during his annual televised birthday interview
with the ZBC two weeks ago, in which he frequently paused for breath in
between his answers.
Mugabe’s health has over the past 10 years or so become a major discussion
topic both at home and abroad – with this fascination with him reaching a
crescendo over the past few years following some public mishaps, including
his tumble at Harare International Airport in February 2015 as he walked
off a podium.
This happened after the nonagenarian had just finished addressing his
supporters after returning from Ethiopia where he had gone to take over
the rotating chairmanship of the African Union.
Although he appeared unhurt after the nasty fall, the incident – which
occurred in full view of gathered bigwigs, Zanu PF rank and file members
and journalists – triggered panic among senior government officials and
security chiefs, who all scrambled to help him get on his feet and ensure
that he was alright.
Mugabe also later stumbled in New Delhi, at an India-Africa summit, and
had to use a wheelchair at the 60th Asian-African Conference Commemoration
that was held in Indonesia.
Offensively, the nonagenarian has also had to endure sickening jokes and
false reports about his alleged death – prompting him to put down these
sadists saying he had “died” many times more than Jesus Christ.
“I have died many times. That’s where I have beaten Christ. Christ died
once and resurrected once. I am as fit as a fiddle. At this age, I can
still go some distance, can’t I?
“There are things one must do for oneself. Don’t drink at all, don’t
smoke, you must exercise and eat vegetables and fruit,” he said in an
interview with the ZBC, ahead of his 88th birthday in 2012.
Despite his advanced age and deteriorating health, as well as the growing
pressure within his ruling Zanu PF for him to step down, Mugabe has thus
far not dropped any hint of his retirement plans – moving recently to shut
the door on his lieutenants in his fractured party who are angling to
Reacting to Mugabe’s Singapore trip yesterday, the spokesperson of the
country’s main opposition party, the MDC – Obert Gutu – said it was time
the nonagenarian retired.
“Mugabe now belongs to an old people’s home and certainly not behind the
levers of State power at State House. Some of us actually felt pity for
him as he was frothing profusely whilst delivering his 73 minute-long
speech at Matobo last Saturday.
“Why are these people (Zanu PF bigwigs) abusing the old man? This is
wrong, immoral and evil. The old man should be allowed to rest as he has
had his time,” he said.
A fortnight ago, powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe stunned the nation when
she said her husband could even rule the country from the grave.