via Zimbabwe Media Gripped by Fear over Mugabe Illness Story Zimbabwe Mirror
A SENIOR Zimbabwean Journalist with a leading independent newspaper has revealed that the local media fraternity is too scared to write about President Robert Mugabe’s illness even though his infirmity is now common knowledge among journalists
Many are asking if Mugabe, who turns 90 next month is still fit enough to continue as Head of State six months after his ZANU PF party won the elections that are being disputed by the opposition.
Journalists have tried to sort out fact from rumour, but they got no help from the government who offered a vague assurance that the country’s long time leader was back home from the Far East, “but he is still on holiday until the end of January.”
Mugabe annually goes on leave for a full month but this time he was away for two weeks. The state media has a habit of covering all his return trips from official and private journeys at the Harare international airport.
The Zimbabwe Mirror took the senior journalist to task over the apparent failure by the media to dig deeper and find out the apparent cover up by the state media over Mugabe’s health after word got out that he was unwell.
The Herald and the State broadcaster ZBC reported that Mugabe had arrived back from his annual break in Singapore on Friday. However, both state media houses used old pictures of Mugabe arriving at the airport raising questions as to why they had not used the actual images of his arrival.
Adding to the confusion, Zanu PF director of information and publicity, Psychology Maziwisa went a step further and falsely claimed the picture represented the actual image of Mugabe being welcomed at the airport Vice-President Joyce Mujuru.
Since then, speculation has been further raised by the fact that the ZBC TV, the only television broadcaster in the country, has failed to show a video of Mugabe’s arrival, which analysts say is highly unusual as cameras and singing party women are traditionally always on hand to capture the President’s arrival from his trips abroad.
In the internet age, most Zimbabweans have been quick to bust the lie that the state media and Zanu PF official has tried to scheme to the public.
Questions therefore being raised as to why old pictures are being presented as current images of Mugabe.
Many questions have been raised within the inquisitive Zimbabwean online community; did he come back, if ever he went on holiday. If he came back, could it be that he was too unwell, perhaps on a stretcher or wheelchair that he could not be photographed? Could this explain the use of an old image instead of a current one? Could the rumour that he is unwell be true after all and Zanu PF is trying to keep it a secret?
Political analyst Gideon Chitanga said it could be that Mugabe has instructed his handlers not to say anything on his health as that is his private business. He also speculated that it might be that nobody has the ‘guts’ to speak about the health issues without seeking clearance from the ageing leader.
As the news blackout continues, so does the speculation over whether Mugabe is sick or not. Without any statement from the government the public is enduring endless rumors and counter rumours emanating from political interest groups.
Chitanga added that at this point the issue is neither about a single individual or a single party, nor even about political differences.
“This is about ZANU PF’s lack of culture of accountability and transparency. It is disconcerting that weeks after Mugabe vanished from public view, Zimbabweans still have no answers as to how long he will remain absent,” said Chitanga.
Political observer Mutsa Murenje waded into discussion and asked why officials find it acceptable to continue to keep the public in perpetual darkness.
“If the country is governed by its constitution, the current secrecy makes no sense. The government is obligated to answer these questions: Where is Mugabe? What is the nature of his illness? When should the public expect him back? The public needs to know,” Murenje said.
He added that in these uncertain times, the continuing lack of accurate information is dangerous. Zimbabweans cannot afford to gamble the future of the country with rumors and counter rumors.
“It is high time the ruling party level with the Zimbabwean people and be forthcoming about the exact status of the country’s leader as he is the first citizen,” he said.
Mugabe’s health has always been kept a closely guarded secret. In all his 33 years in power, most Zimbabweans can hardly pinpoint a time when Mugabe has ever been taken ill. Only after several trips to Singapore a few years ago did the state reveal that he had gone for treatment but only for an eye cataract. However, in an interview with the US embassy officials in 2008, one of his closest allies, former central bank Governor Gideon Gono revealed that Mugabe was suffering from prostrate cancer. Gono claimed that Mugabe’s doctors had given him 5 years to live.
The Zimbabwe Mirror asked the senior journalist why the media was showing unusual lethargy around a potentially explosive story. He revealed that while. Mugabe was unwell and it is no longer a secret in the media circles, there was extreme fear to report on the story within the local media. The media in Zimbabwe is severely restricted and reporting on so-called sensitive matters around Mugabe and the state can lead to torture or imprisonment for journalists. In 1999, Mark Chavhunduka and Ray Choto were severely tortured after reporting on a story involving the military and a potential coup that had allegedly been attempted.
“Few people in the media do not know that he is not well. And that he is at his residence. Senior officials are making visits to see him at his residence. But this story is too hot and no local editor will touch it, not yet anyway. The problem is you guys in the online media don’t pay enough for such a high risk story!”, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Mugabe was not at the Heroes Acre for the burial of Retired Lieutenant Colonel Harold Chirenda, last week Thursday , with Vice President Joyce Mujuru leading the proceedings as Acting President.
Although ZANU PF continuously dismisses any reports that their ageing leader has serious health problems, there is widespread speculation that he may have succumbed to prostate cancer.
The speculation has also been fuelled by recent social media posts by Zanu PF youth activist and businessman, Fidelis Fengu who on January 4th on his Facebook page wrote “I foresee a trip to the Heroes Acre soon”.
Fidelis Fengu….Smelling Death
Below is a list of State Agents and their home numbers initially published on social network site facebook by Gift K. Mawire.They are always in Mugabe’s company:
- Elias Macheka(N/A)
- Lawrence Kamwi(Tel: 04 443497 and 04 443498)
- Richard Simbarashe Muchenje
- Nhamounesu Mangove(N/A)
- Goodwell Nzombe(Tel: 04 224291)
- Nelson Dube(Tel: 04 498485 and 04 369099)
- Chakatungwa hyde Hwingwiri(BodyGuard, Tel: 04 216995)
- Andrew Mukushwa(0227 2609)
- Wellington Kwekwesai Sakupwanya(04 699526 )
10. Joseph Nyadzayo(04 660410)
11. Docas Florence Tavaziva(04 744752)
12. Sairai Mazviitireni(N/A)
13. John Allen Lifa(020 66577)
14. Joe Mhishi Tapera(04 492752 @19 GELCON AVE GREENDALE )
15. Onismo Chigejo(N/A)
16. Aaron Daniel Tonde Nhepera(04 306796)
17. Martin Kwainona(04 577874 )
18. Vincent Mariga(N/A)
19. Ephraim Jemwa(054 229233)
20. Albert Mujuru Dr(04 707696)
21. Osborn Majongo(N/A)
22. Waddison Shamba(N/A)
23. Joselyne Dadirai Muchenje(054 226681)
24. Fordwell Tasaranago(04 2922244)
25. Lawrence Mhlaba(054 252066)
26. Damiyano Phiri(054 227985)
27. Grace Marere(04 731345)
28. Tristen Chabwinja(04 613948)
29. Rosemary Anna Hanyani(04 480234)
30. Clancy Makaza(04 335759)
31. Bernadette Silungisile Ntaba(N/A)
32. Pfungwa Nyika(N/A)
33. Samuel Chiwhondo Mhango(N/A)
34. William Nyenyai Gwatiringa(04 884230)
35. Wonder Enock Nyamurima(N/A)
36. Elay Huni(04 663118@ 3 BURSTON CL HOUGHTON PARK WATERFALLS)
37. Jane Musindo(04 570598)
38. Louisa Memory Nyanhongo(04 2920823@ ROOM 4452 BLOCK 45 MUFAKOSE)
39. Witness Ngwenya(04 796976@ FLAT 9 TUDOR GDNS MAZOWE ST HARARE)
40. George Changata(054 228016@ 13 VICTORY RD GWERU EAST GWERU)